Diarrhea medication being used to get high

Posted at 8:10 PM, May 16, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-16 20:10:37-04

A growing number of heroin users are turning to an over-the-counter medicine to get high and what it is might come as a surprise. 

Addicts are using anti-diarrhea medicine Imodium to get high.

"Addicts are always chasing the high," said Nate Kehlmeier with Recovery Unplugged, a treatment center that uses music to help recovering addicts.

A recently released report said the medication has growing appeal because it's cheap and available. 

Doctors across the country and Northeast Ohio are seeing people abuse the drug.

"If used in high enough levels it can cross the blood brain barrier and have effects similar to any other narcotic," said Cleveland Clinic Doctor Jason Jerry.

The main ingredient in Imodium and other diarrhea medications is loperamide. Doctors said used properly the drug is safe but used in very high doses and it becomes very dangerous. Excessive doses can lead to heart problems, kidney and liver failure and could lead to death. 

"Just because something is over the counter doesn't mean it is safe. Parents should exercise good judgment and be vigilant about these things," said Jerry.