A new and frightening phase in the opioid crisis, addiction centers are treating people abusing Loperamide, commonly known to you and me as Imodium, a treatment for diarrhea.

Dr. Chapman Sledge, Chief Medical Officer at Cumberland Heights, said his addiction center has treated people dependent on Imodium.

"Literally addicted to Imodium, that is their drug of choice, and it is a classic syndrome of opioid dependence," said Sledge.

It mirrors every aspect of an opioid addiction, even the high, but once you travel down that road, it can be a very bumpy ride.

"There is a tolerance level that requires more and more to produce the same effect as the euphoria with very high doses, and it's very difficult to get off of with the withdrawal symptoms, it’s very tough," said Sledge.

Why are people who abuse drugs turning to Imodium? Look no further than the war on opioids.

"The supply of prescription opioids, thank goodness, is diminished, less availability, the cost on the street is quite a bit more, as prescription opioids diminish, people are looking for outlets, and imodium, is very cheap and obviously very accessible," said Sledge.

While you can buy Imodium at any drug store, for people abusing it, it requires more than just a couple of pills to get high.

"Typically, we are seeing people use from 50 to 300 and 400 tablets a day. It’s pretty easy to order a bottle of 100 2-milligram Loperamide on the internet for $10," said Sledge.

The problem is on the Federal Drug Administration's radar screen. They have expressed concern and are asking the industry to police themselves. They are also asking companies to voluntarily restrict selling Imodium in bulk, but, it's still readily available.

Copyright 2019 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.


Alan Frio is the anchor of News4's evening newscasts on Saturdays and Sundays.

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