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Health expert warns about danger of abusing over-the-counter drugs

The abuse of over-the-counter drugs continues to be a problem.

A local health expert is warning about the dangers of abusing OTC’s. Jim Mowry is a toxicologist at Indiana University Health said those with drug abuse problems will use over-the-counter drugs to self medicate an opioid withdraw or use them to get high.

“With an opioid withdrawal, you have nausea, vomiting, sweating, you really feel bad. Opioid withdraw is not life-threatening in most cases, it’s just very uncomfortable so what they’re trying to do is trying to take the edge off of that feeling uncomfortable,” Mowry said.

In February, there was a case in Bartholomew County where a man overdosed and died on after he overdosed on Imodium, a medicine commonly used to treat diarrhea.

Imodium abuse has grown in popularity. In late January, the FDA put new restrictions on Imodium packaging to reduce the amount of doses in each packet.

“Imodium doesn’t just have the opioid effects, it also has very profound effects on the heart and so when we’re seeing people coming in with arrhythmia or abnormal heart rates and we have actually had people die from this,” Mowry added.

Loperamide is the active ingredient in Imodium. That ingredient alone is a synthetic opioid.

“The way that Imodium works to stop diarrhea is that we actually have opioid recepetors in our gut and basically what it does is slow down the gut,” Mowry said.

In small doses, imodium is not harmful but when abuses take 200-300 pills at a time to either get a high or combat a withdraw, it is extremely dangerous.

Mowry said it has been reported of people using Benedryl for the self-treatment of GHB abuse along with Robotusion, which is known as Robo-tripping.

He said drugs should be stored away.

“Most of your drugs should actually be in a locked cabinet. You never know who’s going to come over. If you have children come over it’s almost impossible to police the area and make sure they’re not exploring and getting into something so we recommend as a general rule things should be in a locked cabinet.”