Over-the-counter opiates used to stop diarrhea and maybe ease withdrawal

by Chris Strosser
Posted: 11/29/06
Last Edited: 2/24/09

Most people are not aware that opiates can be found over-the-counter at the local drugstore, and that anyone can buy them. In fact, one product in particular is widely used and isn’t restricted to those under 18 years of age. The drug I’m referring to is loperamide, meperidine’s strange distant cousin and the active ingredient in the popular anti-diarrheal, Imodium AD. Loperamide is an opioid. Another common formulation known as Lomotil has diphenoxylate as the active ingredient, which is also an opioid used to stop diarrhea. One annoyingly persistent side effect of opioid usage, which all those on pain management can attest to, is constipation, which is the desired effect with these medications.

How loperamide affects the body

All opiates cause constipation by binding to opioid receptors throughout the gastrointestinal tract. This binding causes muscles in the gastrointestinal tract to become tense. The increased muscle tension causes the normal progressive movement of food waste to stop—thus, causing the infamous, unrelenting, opiate-induced constipation. Though loperamide and diphenoxylate exert a powerful effect on the gastrointestinal tract, they have no effect on the brain. Ultimately, this means no euphoric high, which is why it is still available over-the-counter. Typical opiates are fat-soluble enough to cross the blood-brain barrier (also known as the BBB), and bind to opiate receptors in the brain.

From controlled substance to over-the-counter wonder

When loperamide was first introduced to the public, it was actually classified as a Schedule V substance, meaning it required a prescription to use. The reason officials classified this drug as a Schedule V substance was because the typical opiate withdrawal symptoms were present following abrupt cessation of long-term therapy. Loperamide’s status as a controlled substance was eventually removed and its standing was downgraded to nothing more than an over-the-counter medicine. Recent studies have, however, put forth evidence that it is possible to create an environment for the molecules to move across the BBB. “Drug-containing nanoparticles were coated with polysorbate 80 and injected intravenously into mice,” A prolonged, as well as significant analgesic effect occurred upon injection of the coated loperamide.

Loperamide as a comfort medicine in opiate withdrawal

Loperamide may also work as an aid in detoxification. Several medical journals, as well as countless unofficial accounts report significantly diminished withdrawal symptoms upon dosing with loperamide; however, there is a lot controversy on this subject. At the very least, loperamide will aid in reducing the gut-retching diarrhea that comes with most opiate detoxifications. Loperamide works for some people, and doesn’t work for others. As always, one should always seek the professional advice of a doctor before starting any sort of therapy or withdrawal treatment.

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32 thoughts on “Over-the-counter opiates used to stop diarrhea and maybe ease withdrawal

  • I have been an opiate addict for 13 years. I have been blessed to find an herb called Kratom. It has been my savior. 0 withdrawal effects with this. No desire to use opiates, the Kratom actually works on the dopamine levels that your brain craves from opiates.. It is an all natural herb, we sell it in CA at smoke shops, but you can also find it online.

  • I can’t believe I’ve suffered through WD few times n even managed to get arrested trying to get pills BC I can’t handle how aweful WD are. Thank you a million times for posting bout Immodium. I’m quitting the Sub’s n the WD are just as as bad as oxys. So those asking if it works for Sub’s the answer is yes!!!

  • My 35 yr old daughter was a heroin addict and wanted to get off of it. She heard that the antidiarrheal med at Walmart would stop the withdrawals. She had also been told it would require her to take the entire bottle of 72 pills each day. Her phone texts reveals she took an entire bottle in one day and four days later she was found dead. In the text, she stated she would be taking a bottle each day to combat the withdrawal symptoms. She was found dead 4 days later. Don’t try it. I miss her so much. Her daddy.

  • Really want to give hope to all opiate addicts. As a ten year user i lost so much that mattered in my life. Somehow i have aways been able to get my fix. You name it i took it. So finally i decided to stop. The fear of withdrawal has always kept me scraping to get what i needed.
    As i write this i took my last norco 24 hours ago. After 12 hours i was very irritable and achy as 12 hours was the longest i had evergone without something. Nose running and sneezing had begun and was so very listless and without energy. So after some research i took 5 loperamide pills. I know this is far less than recommended for withdrawal. Within an hour i felt absolutely normal. Right now i feel perfect. No symptoms whatsoever! Going to take 5 more shortly and try to taper loperamide after a week when most physical symptoms should be over. So far its amazing!
    Please try loperamide. It has been unbelievable for me. Good luck everybody.

  • Tagament and 30 mg of loperamide . with cigarettes and or cannabis willtake the edge of withdrawal.
    I Always eat a huge meal ahead of time and wait one hour before dosing.
    Lope also works great for a miday dose (18 mgs) for pain patients to help extend your script . Its a great med play around with it but be smart..

  • Wanted to add something I think is important for people to know about Immodium (aka Loperamide). It is very addictive on it’s own. It sneaks up on you because you aren’t getting “high” and then after using it regularly (anything over 6/day) for as little as 7 days, you are likely to get some withdrawal symptoms! As I and many others have found out, loperamide withdrawal is much harder and much longer than most opiates. This med taken in high doses can actually stop your heart… It’s not worth the risk. At 44 days into my withdrawal from 60mg loperamide per day, I still have restlessness, insomnia, hot and cold flashes, buzzing and zapping in my neck and shoulders and absolutely NO energy to do more than breathe. Look into the addiction stories of this OTC med before jumping onto it. The half-life for loperamide is 36-48 hours, so don’t underestimate the crazy effect this opiate can have on your body.I wish I had done WAY more research when I was coming off of fentanyl.
    IF you decide to use it for withdrawal, start tapering from day 1 and never take more than you need to start with.
    I hate loperamide passionately because of how nasty withdrawal is (wd lasts 90 days in some cases).
    Please be careful with this stuff.

  • All this is very interesting to me. When I was using heavily back in the 80s we had nothing to help get us off dope. Methadone or go it alone. When Imodium came along, we all felt a little better because it actually worked for diarrhea. The instructions said take 2 every time you took a shit, well that was 2 every ten minutes and before you knew it you had taken 15 or 20. I never felt like it helped with withdraws and I certainly cannot believe a family doctor would prescribe suboxone for Imodium withdraws. I will however, take a much closer look at this drug.

  • @wrong As much as it seems like it will go on forever, what you are feeling is temporary. To recover from opioid addiction, social support is absolutely 100 percent mandatory. Whether meetings, therapy, or rehab, these things really do make a difference. Also, if you can muster up the energy, try to move around and get some light exercise. It will help your brain to jump start the production of the endogenous opioids, which will help you feel a little better. If you read through some of the other posts on the site, you will see that there are A LOT of other people who feel your pain. Just hold out a little longer. You may just surprise yourself. The pain does end, and that’s when your new life will begin. Hang in there.

  • I am a long term user 33 now started on endocete and valium at 12 went up to the oxycontin Roxicodone now oxycontin Roxicodone and opana along with Xanax klonapin and some well I trusted a family member with my pills as to say I am fucked and sic on day 4 or 5 I think it’s all been a bad haze and I wanna die I believe I am about to blow my brains out with the 30 cal iver Johnson enforcer in my lap that’s how bad this is if any 1 can help please do might have minutes days or even years but rite now every second is 4 days of hell

  • Yes it worked for me, i took hydro cs for two years (7 of the 10mg a day) and i quit cold turkey. I take 3 2 mg in morning and two more thro out day) This is day 11 for me, i cant say i feel normal because compared to being insainly happy everyday from hydros i wont ever feel that pleasure again, i believe that is what will help ppl the most, dont kid yourself. While on opiates you have a invisible protection around you from feeling any pain mental or physical. This is unnatural. Accepting that you now have to deal with life IS the hardest part. The faster you realize that the better. Life sober suck s folks. But we have the choice to make it better. At first its hard and then its still hard. If i was alone in this world i would do hydro cs for life and gladly die young but thats not the case. Stay healthy for you love ones because they need you!

  • Hi can someone help me out. I been addicted to tramadol for years now, and its getting really bad my body is so use to it. I have to take ten to feel anything. I cant do anything without taking it, and my body hurts when I dont have enough to take. it helps me with energy alot. I will go to work , and work really hard when im on it ,but now I want to get off and some one told me about anti diarrheal does it work for tramodol ? and do I just go cold turkey and starte the anti diarrheal im so scared. I dont even think it will work and I have to work every day. I wish I was never introduced to this drug thats the only thing im addicted to .I wish I could take off work but im a single mom thats doing it all and its so hard to keep going without something to help me.

  • I would not suggest taking too much of the immodium….I took the dosage that some of the ppl suggested on here nd although it did help with some of the symptoms it also made me sick as a dog nd every time I had thought about it made me severely sick to my stomach…..I would only take the recommended dosage that it tells u to on he box or u will get very sick from taking too much of it

  • Yes it really works, I took 40mg lop an hour after tAkING 3 of the tagamet, at two hours didn’t feel anything and decided to take 20 more miligrams, now its been 4 hours and I feel great. I don’t have explosive energy like I get from sniffing a little dope but I feel like I would on 2-4 mg suboxone ( if u have a tolerance) not high persay but I feel great

  • Everyone Listen up…..I was on PKers for 10 years straight then moved to subs then after 5 years I realize subs are no different! If you really want to quit you need to get lopermaide and thats it !! I had zero WDS at all….its been over 2 months now and I feel so much better. Other tan a lil pain in the gut for 2 weeks from the lope it was tit. Call it a miracle but all remember the mind controls the body !! Good luck

  • I have never tried Imodium as a relief for opiate withdrawal, in the past I usally buy ‘Nurofen Plus’ & ‘Solpadeine Max’ & take 3 of each every few hours, but the dissadvantage there is the amount of paracetamol that I’m using, well abusing! It does help but not reccomended for more than a few days to get you through the initial withdrawals. I intend to try ‘Loperamide’ as it sound to me like a better alternative. Also for help with sleeping I woud strongly recommend ‘Sominex’ (promethazine hydrochloride) it’s an over the counter medication for sleep deprivation & surprisingly enough it really does work I can vouch for that! Take 2 a night intead of the recommended 1!

  • I am withdrawing from methadone and poppy tea and codeine all together am on day four now an av been to the seven circles of hell an account mean this as literally as possible. Just I read about a anti diarrhoea tablet that could help me ‘imodium’ IT WORKS !!!! I went to the media box at home found some there, and anyone can by it otc I have been only taking two or three 2ml tab a day 24 that is cos am in England and valum can not just be bought otc hear it’s a class b controlled so it a no hopper lol so I’m awake constantly aaaahhhhh it was that a the beginning till I found imodium this drug is an excellent withdraw dfug to help I took three 2ml of the instance ones that melt in your mouth and with in minutes most of my withdraw was just gone YES … Yes it is a opioid but it’s not one that crosses the bbb (blood brain barrier ) so it helps with the opiot receptors but you don’t get high from it,that’s not to say you can’t if you took it with other things that I won’t mention on hear now you can get the high. Anyway I have had successful effectiveness from this drug so good look to all those in w/d hell keep it up an you will get through this is my second real rattle I was a user for fifteen years then clean for two and now it’s round two, this can be beaten people COME ON YOU BASTARD AL AV YOU YOUR A MONKEY DEMON ON MY SHOLDER an am knocking you off ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

  • Loperamide ,tagamet& Valium stopped all withdrawal symptoms but the mental &physical craving was still there so u have to set your mind to feel no soul or spirit for awhile don’t know how long as I picked up my refill so I will try again I blacked causing me to drive off the road n into somebody s garage sheriff sited me for DUI pending blood evaluation so my defense is was stupid n didn’t know combination could cause passing out

  • Hey all,

    Unfortunately for most of us, it’s not just the withdrawal it’s also a drop in energy and the physical action in using. For this reason it is difficult to quit for the long term. I’m sorry to say, I’ve relapsed multiple times because I enjoy the opiate high and uphoria.

    All I can say is you really need to want to quit. If not relapsing is too easy. Stepping down and something like this is the only way I’ve been able to quit. Try and keep busy, swimming helps me or building something. Good luck!

  • I couldnt believe that anti-diarrheal medication could actually stop withdrawls. I took some loperimide this morning for severe body aches, and other withdrawal sypmtoms. I feel like a million dollars, just like I am on methadone or something. I must try the poppy seed remedy as well. I wish I would have known about Immodium AD and the other anti-diarrhea medications before, because I could have avoided the many days lying in bed “sick” and hurting so bad. I have used tramadol in the past to east withdrawals, and the anti-diarrhea medicaton is 10x better. wow is all I can say.

  • Will this really help and would it work better if I used these four 2mg suboxone strips I have first then try this imodium regiment? I also get 90 .5 clonapin a month will that also take all of the symptomatic away? Any answers

  • I was cut from 24mil. of suboxone to nothing………..overnite! I went into detox and have been out for about three days now and still feel like crap. I was cut off sum two months ago and feel the same as I did after about three days……………..bad. Does anyone recommend using this for the withdrawel symtoms of suboxone?

  • I have been taking opiates for over 10 years now for lower back pain, and admit to abusing my scripts sometimes and running out early. Immodium ad has been my savior many many times. I always go to Wally world and get the 72 count bottles(they are even packaging them in double value packaging now). Im about 6’2…180…..and I actually take 15-20 of the little 2mgs twice daily when im out of my regular pain meds(hydro-codones)….and have ZERO withdrawels,actually give me a little energy. Another side effect of taking that many immodiums, orgasms are alot harder to achieve!!!….sometimes good for her!!….I only wish i would have known about the immodiums years ago, when I would have to miss work because i could not function at all. Immodium’s IMO are the best remedy when it comes to avoiding withdrawels.

  • Just to help- Main w/d i have experienced is diarea, sneezing (leading to dry nose to bloody nose), pain, sweating, and overall feeling of emptyness. I can vouch for loperamide. Also the best way to quit is to taper down. If you can find self control try to cut down to a bare minimum dose without feeling w/d’s. Poppy seed tea DOES work, wegmans and other health food stores carry them. Bob’s Red Mill Poppy seeds helped me quit, just look at the bags and if you can see little plant pieces in the bag, chances are they have morphine residue. Put it in a bottle with water, shake it up for 20 minutes,unscrew the cap half way and squeeze out the liquid leaving the seeds in the bottle. pinch your nose and suck it down ( it tastes terrible). Only problem with poppy seed tea is you are still actually taking an opiate.. a strong one at that. 4 bags of 8oz poppy seeds feel like 80 mg oxycodone. If you can taper down, drink a red bull, also there is a diet pill called Fastin, it sorta feels like adderall but it is otc you can find it at wal mart. This makes you feel like a million bucks if you are hurting. Best of luck, imagine a world with no drug addicts.

  • Without even thinking about it, I took a regular dose of imodium (2mg) for methadone withdrawal . I had horrible, acidic (sorry) diarriah! I remembered that I heard it was an opiate and decided to look this up again. And here I am! It seems to have relieved me a little bit in every way. My suggestion is to use as directed and get some needed relief but if u want to get High, try something else! I have heard a lot of horrible stories of severe, severe constipation and awful migraines from taking high doses.

  • My elderly mother got diarrhea three days after stopping Fentanyl (after 2 months for back pain).
    This is three months later and the daily awful diarrhea has no stopped. Anytime she takes an anti d pill she gets double the amount of diarrhea the next day. All lab tests come back negative.

  • If you are detoxing your body from opiates and cleaning your receptors out, how could an opiod help? It would just pro long it, it’s just like taking another percocet or oxy or more suboxen. To detox you have to rid your body of opiates until you’re back to normal. I don’t get how this would help?

  • It works. I swear by it. I do have to take well over the recommended dosage for it to be effective but it does work. I work in a position at my job where if there was any clue I had an opiate addiction, I’d be unemployed. The boss being a pillhead is not very socially acceptable. But when I need to avoid withdrawals. The Loperimide is my BFF

  • Loperamide (Imodium) is an excellent medication for opioid detox. It mostly affects the mu receptors in the lower GI (there are less receptors in the upper GI) so it is more effective for diarrhea and gas than it is for vomiting and stomach cramps. For opiate detox, use it at a much higher dose than is recommended on the box – it is nearly impossible to overdose from loperamide. 10-20 mg every 4-6 hours for at least 5 days and then slowly tapering down to 2 mg twice daily (no real harm can come from long term use of low dose loperamide and your bowels will likely be irregular for at least a few weeks). In any case, within 4-6 days the most severe withdrawal symptoms will be over (any residual diarrhea can be easily treated with loperamide).

    There is some evidence that small amounts of loperamide (especially when given at higher doses) may cross the blood-brain barrier in some individuals. This may be the reason that some people report significantly more subjective relief from using loperamide than do others. However, there is no evidence that loperamide has ever caused true physical addiction.

    The second OTC drug to combine with loperamide for opioid detox is some form of antihistamine for the inevitable running nose and tearing eyes. Pick a single drug formulation and not a “multi-symptom” cold or allergy medicine. Perhaps the best antihistamine for this particular histamine-related set of symptoms is clemastine (Tavist). Chlorpheniramine also works well. Benadryl is not quite as good at treating the runny nose and tearing eyes. It’s best at treating itching and hives which some individuals may experience as severe symptoms. (You can combine two antihistamines – just adjust the doses and make sure they are single drug formulations). If you cannot obtain a prescription sedative (see below), Benadryl is also a good night-time antihistamine as it is sedating (more so in some individuals than in others).

    If available, some form of benzodiazepine (Valium works well) is excellent for anxiety, muscle cramps, depression, and sleep. Benzodiazepines should only be used for a limited time as longer term use risks another addiction). The following doses are for a 10 day protocol for Valium: Use 5-10 mg every 4-6 hours (10-20 mg at bedtime) for the first four days and then 5 mg every 8 hours (5-10 mg at bedtime) for three days, followed by 5-10 mg at bedtime for an additional three days. DON’T MIX BOOZE WITH DOWNERS!!!

    Some people find small doses of cannabis helpful in light or late-stage withdrawal (be careful using if you are in severe, acute withdrawal). Alcohol may provide some comfort but really is contraindicated (it is dehydrating, strains your liver, and also has some cross-tolerance with opiates) – cannabis is a much better choice. Be sure to drink lots of pure water and quality fruit juice and also take antioxidants (Vit C, B-complex, Vit E, Beta-Carotene, Co-Enzyme Q10, acetyl-l-cysteine etc.). Light stretching and gentle yoga is also very helpful after the acute withdrawal stage.

  • I’m starting to hit withdraw and just hit the stages of diareah/runny nose/sneezing/coughing/anxiety/RLS/Insomnia/etc. and an hour ago took some 2mg of loperamide and my withdraw was cut by more than half most of the aches and pains have subsided a cough now and again and the anxiety is still there but seems to be a tad lower. Of cource I’m only in the first stages.. Can’t wait for the withdraw to be over. I already have anxiety and withdraw makes it worst it’s one of the worst parts of withdraw next to the insomnia and bleading from too much butt wiping…

  • this stuff worked amazingly when i detoxed off heroin, it not only stops diarrhea but also eases the gut-renching pain that usually comes with heroin detox.

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