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Imodium Addiction: Side Effects, Detox, Withdrawal, and Treatment

imodium pills

What is Imodium?

Loperamide is an over-the-counter and prescription diarrhea medicine sold under the brand name Imodium. Although it is an opioid (the only opioid available without a prescription), it is considered safe with a low potential for abuse, unless it is taken in extremely high doses.

Prescription loperamide is typically used to treat ongoing diarrhea while the over-the-counter version is usually self-administered after a person has experienced a loose bowel movement. The maximum recommended daily dose for over-the-counter loperamide is 8 mg per day and 16 mg per day for prescription loperamide. However, people who abuse this drug often consume anywhere from 50 to 400 pills a day.

When taken as prescribed or directed on the over-the-counter packaging, Imodium produces few side effects. Additionally, many people may not realize the serious risks of misusing it simply because it’s an over-the-counter medication. However, when Imodium is taken in very large doses, it can produce dangerous side effects like heart dysrhythmia and heart attack.1 It may also cause an overdose.

Although the individuals that abuse Imodium are typically using it to treat opioid withdrawal symptoms, chronic misuse of Imodium can also cause dependence, addiction, and withdrawal symptoms that are similar to those of other opioids like heroin or prescription painkillers.

Slang for Imodium

The following terms are street names or slang for Imodium:

  • The poor man’s methadone

About Imodium Abuse and Addiction

According to the FDA, there has been an increase in Imodium misuse and abuse since 2015.1 This trend is largely driven by opioid abusers who take large quantities of Imodium to self-medicate for opioid withdrawal symptoms.2

Researchers discovered a 71 percent increase in loperamide abuse-related calls to poison control centers across the U.S. between 2011 and 2014. There was also a 10-fold increase in web forum posting about abusing Imodium and 70 percent of those postings discussed using it to self-treat opioid withdrawal. Twenty-five percent of web postings about Imodium abuse talked about using the drug to get high.3

While these online forums provided many details about abusing loperamide in various ways, the short-term and long-term side effects of abusing this anti-diarrhea drug are rarely noted. Imodium may be sold over-the-counter, but that doesn’t mean it’s safe to abuse. Any misuse of loperamide can cause serious side effects, physical dependence, addiction, overdose, or even death.

Side Effects of Imodium Abuse

Common side effects of Imodium abuse include:

  • Dizziness
  • Constipation
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Abnormal heartbeat
  • Palpitations
  • Chest pain
  • Fainting
  • Severe respiratory depression
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Overdose4,5

Signs and Symptoms of Imodium Abuse and Addiction

If someone is addicted to loperamide or abusing it, he or he may display some of the following signs and symptoms of addiction:

  • Taking very large doses of Imodium
  • Buying large quantities of Imodium
  • Being secretive or lying about using Imodium
  • Being unable to stop using Imodium despite the negative consequences
  • Needing more Imodium to feel the same effects

Imodium Detox and Withdrawal

Although people often abuse Imodium to self-treat for opioid withdrawal symptoms, loperamide can cause withdrawal symptoms of its own. Imodium withdrawal symptoms may include:

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Muscle aches
  • Runny nose
  • Chills
  • Sweating
  • Cravings

Unmanaged loperamide or opioid withdrawal can make it very difficult to get sober because the symptoms of withdrawal can become very uncomfortable. The safest and most effective way to detox from opioids or loperamide is to complete a medical detox program. Medically-assisted detox provides 24/7 medical care and assistance to ensure your comfort and safety at all times.

Medical detox may also provide helpful diagnoses for co-occurring disorders such as anxiety and PTSD that may help you further understand the causes of your addiction and address the underlying issues.

Treatment for Imodium Addiction

Overcoming Imodium addiction will require more than just completing a detox program. Although medical detox addresses the physical aspects of Imodium withdrawal and can help you get sober, drug rehab is often necessary to maintain a sober lifestyle and address the underlying causes of your substance abuse.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) recommends at least 90 days of continuous addiction treatment for the best results.6 This extended amount of time in treatment allows for real, genuine change and time to process complex emotional and psychological issues that influence addictive behaviors.

During drug rehab, clients work closely with trained addiction treatment professionals and their peers to achieve certain objectives, such as:

Drug rehab programs use a variety of evidence-based treatment methods, behavioral therapies, and specialized therapies to help clients achieve these objectives, such as:

Inpatient Drug Rehab vs. Outpatient Drug Rehab for Imodium Addiction

Inpatient drug rehab and outpatient drug rehab are two common types of addiction treatment programs for Imodium addiction. If you’re looking for a drug rehab program that will help you overcome your Imodium addiction or opioid use disorder, you may want to consider the qualities of each type of program to determine which is best for you. A doctor or addiction treatment specialist can also help you determine which type of program may be most effective for you.

Here is a quick look at the differences between an inpatient drug rehab program and an outpatient drug rehab program.

In residential rehab, clients:

  • Live at a rehab facility during treatment
  • Adhere to a structured daily schedule
  • Attend individual and group therapy sessions
  • Participate in various treatment methods, therapies, and group activities daily
  • Have immediate access to clinical care and medical treatment

In outpatient rehab, clients:

  • Attend outpatient treatment sessions while living at home or in a sober living home
  • Independently complete homework assignments outside of group sessions
  • Maintain personal obligations like work or school while completing treatment
  • Have limited access to clinical care and medical treatment

Although both inpatient and outpatient addiction treatment options are equally focused on recovery, one type of rehab may cater to your treatment needs more than the other. Regardless of which type of drug rehab program you choose, there are many different ways to pay for treatment and or reduce your out-of-pocket costs, such as:

Continued Care Options for Imodium Addiction Treatment

Imodium addiction or opioid use disorder are chronic, relapsing brain disorders that require ongoing treatment to overcome. Fortunately, there are several different types of ongoing care options that are designed to help people maintain a sober lifestyle and adjust to life without drugs.

Sober Living Programs

Sober living programs are designed to help people transition out of rehab and start living a more independent lifestyle as they adjust to sobriety. Sober living homes offer structure and support during the early stages of recovery and can also be great resources during transitional and challenging times, such as after a relapse.

Although all sober living homes are different, many also provide additional recovery support services, such as:

Often, a person may not have a supportive, safe, and sober environment to return to after rehab. Or, they may need additional recovery support to successfully transition back into everyday life. In these cases, sober living programs can be very helpful.

Aftercare Programs

Aftercare programs are another form of continued care for people in recovery. These outpatient programs provide weekly group meetings for people in all stages of addiction recovery and a safe space to discuss recovery-related issues. Aftercare programs also provide opportunities to invest in the lives of other sober people, build positive, healthy relationships, and share and receive advice for personal issues in recovery.

If you or a loved one is abusing Imodium to cope with opioid withdrawal symptoms, there is another way out and you don’t have to continue down the road of addiction. Call Nova Recovery Center today to learn more about drug detox, rehab, and sober living programs that can help you achieve a satisfying and fulfilling sober life.



  1. https://www.fda.gov/drugs/drug-safety-and-availability/fda-drug-safety-communication-fda-warns-about-serious-heart-problems-high-doses-antidiarrheal
  2. https://www.healthline.com/health-news/fda-crack-down-misuse-of-diarrhea-drug#1
  3. https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/news/20160505/addicts-using-diarrhea-drug-imodium-to-get-high
  4. https://www.pharmacytimes.com/contributor/marilyn-bulloch-pharmd-bcps/2018/07/diarrhea-a-new-indication-contributing-to-the-opioid-epidemic
  5. https://www.jabfm.org/content/jabfp/30/6/832.full.pdf
  6. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/principles-effective-treatment


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