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Imodium overdose leads to Bartholomew County man’s death

(WISH) — A Bartholomew County man has died after overdosing on a common over-the-counter drug.

The coroner said the man had an “extremely high amount” of loperamide, or Imodium, in his body.

Doctors in the area said they’ve seen the antidiarrheal medication being abused by some who are looking for a high. It’s a dangerous trend though, and one that could be fatal.

“Some people might use it to try to get the high. Some people might use it to try to prevent withdrawal if they already have a problem with opiates and it’s the only thing that they can come by,” said Dr. Jeremy Gagan.

Gagan works in the emergency room at Community Hospital South.

He said although the medication has been engineered to give you less of a narcotic high effect, Imodium is still an opiate.

“If taken in excess like that, it will cause all the typical side effects of narcotic overdose, stopping breathing and eventually kill you.”

It is not just happening in central Indiana. Last month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced that they’ve had so many reports of people intentionally abusing the drug nationwide, they’re working with manufacturers to repackage it and limit the number of pills per box.

“The average case of use of this for abuse is about 140-150 pills, so I think that is about a couple boxes, maybe 2-1/2 million boxes of Imodium,” the doctor said.

Gagan said that is well over the recommended amount, so those who need this drug should still take it. It’s safe for use as long as you follow the directions.

“To get any of these dangerous effects you’re going to be taking over 200 milligrams a day. You’re going to be taking 15-20 times the normal amount. It will not accidentally happen,” Gagan said.

If you think someone has overdosed or taken an excessive amount of the drug, call 911 immediately.