The Dangers of Using Imodium AD For Opioid Detox

America’s opioid crisis has been increasing and is expected to continue doing so over the next coming years. Around 2 million Americans today are addicted to opioids and close to 400,000 have died from opioid overdose in the past few decades.  While there is no one drug to blame for the epidemic, the most common drugs abused right now include heroin, fentanyl, opium, morphine, and oxycodone. 

Health experts have shown the importance of seeking treatment and going through a medically supervised detox in order to fully recover from opioids. Many people, either because they don’t want to be public about their addiction or want to attempt recovering on their own, attempt to detox at home. Without medical advice and supervision, this could serious health concerns and lead to unsuccessful rehabilitation. 

How do Opiates Affect the Body? 

Opiates work by blocking pain signals in the body. While they were manufactured for medical settings to help those suffering from acute or chronic pain, they have since become recreational drugs and misused by millions across America. 

Opiates are extremely addictive and long term frequent use can lead to severe mental and physical damage. Over time, individuals become addicted to opiates and without having them in their system their natural levels of pain are increased. The body begins to rely on the drug to feel good and operate normally, so taking away the drug will lead to withdrawal symptoms. 

Overtime people using opiates will also develop a tolerance, so they will need to increase their dosage in order to feel the desired effects. This deepens the addiction, side effects, and makes recovery more difficult. Some of the most common side effects of opioid abuse include : 

  • Dry mouth
  • Constipation
  • Feeling lightheaded
  • Feeling euphoric and overly elated
  • Constricted pupils
  • Lack of coordination
  • Sleeping too much
  • Nausea and vomiting

More serious side effects include:

  • Slowed heartbeat
  • Slowed or shallow breathing
  • Dizziness / Drowsiness
  • Low blood pressure
  • Confusion
  • Loss of appetite
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Depression

Opioid Detox 

When the body suddenly stops receiving the influx of opiates, it starts to experience uncomfortable symptoms.  Anyone addicted to opiates will experience different combinations of withdrawal symptoms. Depending on the severity of the addiction, these side effects may or may not be serious health concerns. Most can expect to feel 

  • Depression and Anxiety
  • Gastrointestinal discomfort
  • Fever
  • Sweating.
  • Chills
  • Muscle aches, cramps, and spasms
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea 
  • Tremors 

What is Imodium?

Imodium, medically known as loperamide hydrochloride,  is a medication commonly prescribed to help decrease gastrointestinal discomfort and diarrhea. This type of medication can be purchased over the counter and is easily accessible to the public. It helps to slow down the intestinal movement and digestion in general.

Loperamide is the active ingredient in Imodium and acts as an opiate receptor agonist, meaning it’s a type of opiate in itself. Loperamide binds to the cells in your stomach and signals the opioid receptors to keep working. This helps keep your digestive system working as it was while you were using, which decreases uncomfortable diarrhea and may ease withdrawal symptoms. 

Although Imodium will help with the gastrointestinal effects of the withdrawal process, it will not reduce the mental, emotional, or other physical aspects of withdrawal. People who believe it could help with those symptoms often end up taking more than what is safe and cause more damage that can lead to serious side effects.  

Immodium and Opioid Addiction 

Although government and medical professionals are aware of the opioid epidemic, there are only so many precautions they can take to prevent further addictions from starting. Rules and regulations have been set, but individuals tend to find access to these drugs anyway. So while prescriptions may be decreasing, people have moved on to street drugs like heroin and fentanyl.  When they don’t have access and start to go through withdrawals, many look for easily accessible options to help others combat withdrawal symptoms which can feel unbearable at their worst. 

Immodium is only intended to help with gastrointestinal symptoms, but when taken in large doses, there is potential to feel some “euphoric” effects This potential is dangerous as the amount needed to create this effect poses a risk of stroke, death, and heart attack. 

Effects of Imodium and Potential Overdose 

Since the uprise in using Imodium as a method of relieving withdrawal symptoms has surfaced, many studies have been done to determine the actual benefits of the drug. There have been no formal conclusions, and the only hypothesized conclusions have been that low doses of Imodium may help alleviate the presence of severe gastrointestinal discomfort. 

This is because Imodium doesn’t affect what is known as the “blood-brain barrier”. This barrier is what sends signals to the entire body including the central nervous system, pain receptors, and emotional reactions. Without being able to reach these internal signals, Imodium cannot have any direct effect on their function. 

Too much Imodium can cause severe damage, and those who take more hoping for more “opiate” like results could be putting their health at risk. Typically, doses are prescribed in 20-40mg. Anything more than 60 mg can cause severe nausea, vomiting, and lead to overdose. 

Signs of Imodium Overdose

Imodium overdose is more of a risk for those attempting to detox at home. Too much Imodium can lead too: 

  • liver damage
  • urinary retention
  • paralytic ileus (stoppage of the intestine)
  • slowed breathing
  • slowed heart rate
  • heart arrhythmia
  • heart attack
  • death

In 2016 the Food and Drug Administration released a public statement advising caution when using Imodium as high doses can lead to stroke, heart attack, and death. High doses can even lead to death.

Health Precautions When Taking Imodium 

If you are going to take Imodium at home, there are a few precautions you should be aware of to ensure you’re taking this over the counter medication properly and not putting yourself at risk for overdose. 

  • Take two caplets or soft gels or 30 mL of the liquid after the first loose stool.
  • Then, take one caplet or soft gel or 15 mL of the liquid after each later loose stool.
  • Never exceed 60 ML in a 24 hour period. 
  • Do not take on an empty stomach
  • Don’t take any Imodium if you are not currently experiencing digestive discomfort (should not be used as “precautionary measures” 

Treating Imodium Overdose

Although Imodium poses fatal risks, if medical attention is sought immediately there is potential to reverse the overdose. People who have overdosed on Imodium or have taken enough to cause damage, have a few options for treatment:

Stomach Pumping: Stomach pumping, also known as gastric lavage or stomach irritation is a process where the contents of the stomach are cleared out to remove any toxins or poisons in the digestive tract. This can help remove the fluid Imodium from the body before it is absorbed. 

Activated Charcoal: Using activated charcoal to absorb the Imodium is a process commonly used after the individual has undergone stomach pumping. Typically, about 100 mg of charcoal will be administered and it will be able to absorb the Imodium before the excess amounts affect the body and cause dangerous side effects. 

Naloxone: Naloxone, a common overdose reversal drug may be provided to offset the Imodium overdose. Naloxone blocks the effects of opiates and is typically used as the medication blocks the effects of opioids and is a common form of treatment for a narcotic drug overdose. Naloxone should only be administered by a medical professional or someone who has been trained on how to properly inject it. 

Anyone taking Imodium should be careful with their dosage regardless of the fact that there are options for reversing an overdose. These methods should only be used for emergency situations and never as a planned method of safety. 

Treatment for Opioid Addiction 

Treatment for substance abuse disorder should include a blend of treatments that address both the mental and physical aspects of the addiction. Many factors come into play, and options for treatment typically include a combination of the following:

  • Detox
  • Depression medications
  • Talk Therapy
  • Nutritional Therapy
  • Meditation & Yoga
  • Behavioral Modification Therapy
  • Relapse Prevention 

Detox is the most important step in recovery, and should always be done is a professional rehabilitation center with licensed professionals who can monitor and supervise you through the withdrawal stage. Attempting to detox at home can lead to a whole host of medical and psychological issues that were not expected. 

Medical professionals are trained to handle any unforeseen bumps in the recovery road and can give you long term care beyond detox that will ensure you stay sober and don’t have to go through the detox process again. 

Counseling sessions with a psychiatrist or counselor that are offered at professional rehab facilities will be able to address your addiction and help find the root causes so you can learn to cope in healthier ways. Until both the body and mind are healed, addiction is not fully treated. 

Seeking Professional Help

If you think you need to detox from opioids, or someone you love is struggling with addiction, find a treatment center close to you to find out more information on how to enroll in their detox and rehab programs. 

There are many options for extended programs, including Sober Living Homes, Intensive Outpatient Programs, and outpatient treatment services. Once your initial treatment is complete, your team of doctors and clinical professionals will be able to advise what the next steps are to successfully address your co-occuring conditions and maintain recovery. 

To learn more about the treatment options available contact us here. You can also call us at (877) 406-6623.


Connor Barton
Connor Barton
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Jacob Rashid
Jacob Rashid
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Tara Payne
Tara Payne
I struggled with alcohol addiction for most of my life. After many tries nothing worked.It was my 43rd birthday and I wasn't gonna see 44 if I didn't get help. I called around and found Coastal. So glad I did. I am so grateful for EVERYONE there. This beautiful facility is not just a detox. They actually have programs to help you learn to live a sober life and enjoy being yourself again! Entire staff is awesome! (Ms Diana ❤️ and Mrs Karen ❤️)They really understand how your feeling as most are in recovery also. If your looking for some help please give them a call. I give them 10+stars. Five months sober now!!! Thank you Coastal!!!
Bob Hawkins
Bob Hawkins
The entire staff of Coastal is great, the therapists, the nurses, the techs, everyone. It’s a great environment to begin your recovery in. As an added perk, the food is some of the best you’ll ever have thanks to the chefs.
Tony Givens
Tony Givens
My experience at coastal detox was very good, the staff there is terrific. They helped me get through the process of detox in a safe and professional manor.
Jodi Silverman Goldberg
Jodi Silverman Goldberg
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Matthew Mcnulty
Matthew Mcnulty
This is the top tier Rehab/Detox center in Southeast FL. I’ve heard nothing but good things about them. Their attention to detail is impressive. They specialize in treating alcohol abuse among several other conditions. If you or a loved one are looking for a blueprint on how to sober up…Coastal Detox will lead you there.
Mary Katz
Mary Katz
My experience with Coastal has been one of empathy, kindness and family. From Admissions to Nurses to techs I have never felt so cared for. Food and drink 24/7. Coastal is a place I went twice. First time 14 days next 6days later for another 11. At 59 and umpteen detoxes Coastal by far is Heaven Sent! As a Nutritionist and Trainer, I'm so happy to be back....the Mary ,who was lost:)
vicky ehr
vicky ehr
Great place . Helped me so much I am a 64 year old woman and this place got me sober with dignity and kindness. I highly recommend it plus the food is incredible. Rooms are really well laid out. 2 guys to a room . Each bed has its own t.v with head sets so you dont bother your roomate. Take an extra pillow and comfort blanket from home. At least 3 pairs of pj’ s sock and shoes and comfortable clothing fit. You do your own laundry there. I will send you the link to look at. After thinking all morning this is hands down the place for you. Lots of young people and fantastic therapists. For my wonderful son who suffers. From addiction the way I do.

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