What Is Imodium? Loperamide Abuse And Addiction Sings

Last Updated: June 3, 2020

Authored by Olivier George, Ph.D.

Imodium (loperamide) is a medication available throughout the United States. The drug is meant to treat diarrhea, but loperamide is often abused as a way to get high. It is important that the public understands what loperamide hydrochloride is and what it can do.

What Is Imodium?

Imodium is an anti-diarrheal medication. Also known by its primary ingredient, loperamide hydrochloride, it is available at pharmacies, shopping centers, and even convenience stores. Loperamide HCL can treat acute, chronic, and traveler’s diarrhea in adults. When used in children, it is only recommended for acute diarrhea, and the Imodium dosage must be adjusted.

In most cases, how long it takes for Imodium to work is a day or less. However, some people can have severe diarrhea that takes longer to treat. It is essential that anyone using the drug also focus on staying hydrated and considers seeing a doctor.

Imodium Addiction: Can It Be Abused?

The idea of Imodium abuse may sound strange, but it is very real. Getting high on Imodium is possible, and why it is possible comes down to how the medication acts on the body.

Imodium Misuse

When loperamide HCI hits the stomach, it binds to the opioid receptors located there. When taken in normal amounts, all this does slow down the processes of the digestive tract, allowing the body to take water out of the intestines, making the stool more solid. When taken in large amounts, Imodium medicine can pass the blood-brain barrier and cause the user to get high.

imodium abuseThe person can not understand that he or she abuses loperamide until the symptoms appear. That’s why following the directions on the label or doctor’s instructions is critical to avoid unintentional abuse. If the patient thinks that Imodium does not work, it is required to get medical consultation first, but not to increase the dose by themselves.

It is important to note that Imodium abuse does not mean taking the medication on a daily basis within the recommended dosages. Taking Imodium every day for IBS is considered an approved use of the drug. Getting high from it requires taking excessively large doses, not consistent doses.

Imodium Addiction

Many people who abuse loperamide do so because they are attempting to stop their use of other drugs. In fact, it is common for people to use loperamide for opiate withdrawal when trying to quit on their own. Doing this is unsafe and makes it likely that the user will simply develop an Imodium addiction.

Imodium Generics

Imodium medication is a brand-name for loperamide. There are other loperamide brand name medications on the market as well. These include Kaopectate II, Maalox Anti-Diarrheal Caplets, and Pepto Diarrhea Control.

However, generic Imodium is widely available and often cheaper than the name brand. Imodium generic names are usually just the name of the central ingredient: loperamide. Companies that make generics of this medication include Major, Berkley-Jensen, GeriCare, Equate, and SDA laboratories.

Parents seeking Imodium for children must be careful when selecting a generic. Some medications that are generic for Imodium are formulations that are not safe for use in children.

Loperamide Drug Class

loperamide drug classUnderstanding the loperamide drug class is a bit complicated. The most commonly known loperamide classification is that of antidiarrheal, as stopping diarrhea is the marketed purpose of taking the drug. But there is more to it than that.

Is Imodium Opiate?

This comes as a surprise to most people who have used the loperamide drug in their lives, but Imodium is an opiate. The Imodium opiate classification is because it binds to opioid receptors in the stomach. Most users who take the medication never experience a high because in therapeutic doses it does not cross the blood-brain barrier. When taken in excessive doses, the loperamide opioid effects can be felt.

Is Imodium Gluten-Free?

A common problem with antidiarrheal medications is that many of them contain gluten. Since people with gluten sensitivities often experience diarrhea because of their condition, antidiarrheal drugs are helpful. However, taking one with gluten will only make things worse.

Imodium is not gluten-free. However, there are some generics that are. Both Target and Walgreens make versions that are labeled gluten-free.

Is Imodium An Antacid?

Because it treats a gastrointestinal issue, many people assume that loperamide can treat other related problems, including acid reflux. However, this is not true. Loperamide is a drug that treats diarrhea only. Acid reflux requires other medications or formulations.

Imodium Drug Formulations

Imodium is a brand name, and multiple products are sold with Imodium in their title. When someone says “Imodium,” they may be referring specifically to the original formula or using it in a general way to refer to any brand product. How to take Imodium varies based on the product used, so it is important that patients check the instructions whenever purchasing a loperamide product.imodium multisymptom relief

Imodium AD

Imodium A-D is the original formula. It is gel capsules containing 2mg of loperamide HCI. This means that there is no difference between Imodium vs. Imodium AD, as they are the same product.

Imodium AD is a basic antidiarrheal medication. Imodium AD acts relatively quickly and strictly treats diarrhea. However, it does not treat other symptoms associated with diarrhea.

Imodium Multi-Symptom Relief

Imodium Multi-Symptom Relief is designed to treat both diarrhea and its associated symptoms, such as cramping, pressure, bloating, and gas. Imodium Multi-Symptom Relief caplets are designed to be fast acting, working more quickly than Imodium AD gel caps. The primary issue with this medication is that it contains more ingredients than the original formula, which means it is at a higher risk of interacting with other medicines.

Imodium Plus Comfort

Imodium Plus Comfort is similar to its Multi-Symptom Relief product in that it treats diarrhea, cramping, and gas. The formula is slightly different, and many users note that they prefer Imodium Multi-Symptom Relief. It is only meant to be used in patients over the age of 12.

Imodium Advanced

Imodium Advanced is the same as Imodium Multi-Symptom Relief. It is the branding used in many countries outside of the United States. Anyone traveling abroad should know to look for Imodium Advanced if they want multi-symptom relief.

Imodium Instant

Imodium Instant Melts are sold outside of the United States. When traveling abroad, people should be careful about taking these. They are known to cause issues in individuals with ongoing gastrointestinal issues.

Does Imodium Expire?

Like all medications, loperamide does expire. How long Imodium shelf life is will depend on the form, formula, packaging, and how it was stored. Patients should not determine if the medication is still safe to take based on their date of purchase; instead, they should consult the packaging to determine if they have the expired medication or not.

Medication expiration dates are determined by various factors, including how long a medication remains effective after the date it has been manufactured, whether or not the chemical composition can alter itself with time, and when it stops being safe to take medicine. Anyone with expired Imodium pills, liquids, or chewables should throw them out.

Imodium Storing

does imodium expire and how to store itThe proper method for storing the medication will depend on whether or not the drug has been opened and what form the medication takes. To be safe, patients should always refer to the Imodium AD directions on the packaging to determine how to store the medication.

In general, Imodium pills should be left in their blister packs until a single pill is used. This applies to medication tablets and gel caps. These blister packs should be stored inside their original boxes so that the instructions and warnings are available when needed. The boxes should be placed in a cool, dry area, so they and the medication do not degrade.

Imodium AD liquid should be kept at room temperature and away from sources of natural light that could heat the liquid and harm the medication. It is not meant to be refrigerated. Chewable Imodium should be stored in the same way pills are.

Is Imodium Safe?

Given that it can be abused and different formulas have different risks, people may wonder if Imodium is safe. In general, the answer is yes. People over the age of two can take certain loperamide formulas. One can even take Imodium while pregnant if exercising caution.

Loperamide side effects are harsher when the medication is misused. However, when used as directed and no complicating factors are present, loperamide is a safe drug to use on an as-needed basis.

Imodium Price

imodium priceImodium is the most expensive version of loperamide because it is the name of a brand. The average Imodium price is about $15 for a pack of 42 pills. This cost can often be reduced through the use of the medication coupons, which are commonly available.

Another way to reduce loperamide costs is to opt for generics. For example, it is possible to buy loperamide for as little as $7 for 100 pills. It is easy to find a good deal by shopping around.

When The Medication Is Abused

Imodium is a helpful drug to have on hand, but if it is being abused, the risks are high. Anyone who is abusing loperamide or thinking about using it to stop another addiction should seek treatment. Drug rehabilitation centers know how to assist addicts in getting and staying clean. Their addiction treatment programs facilitate a fast and effective recovery.

Page Sources

  1. https://www.gov.uk/drug-safety-update/loperamide-imodium-reports-of-serious-cardiac-adverse-reactions-with-high-doses-of-loperamide-associated-with-abuse-or-misuse

Published on: May 6th, 2019

Updated on: June 3rd, 2020

About Author

Olivier George, Ph.D.

Olivier George is a medical writer and head manager of the rehab center in California. He spends a lot of time in collecting and analyzing the traditional approaches for substance abuse treatment and assessing their efficiency.


Leave a comment