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[Editorial] Self-medicating in the opioid crisis

On June 7, the US Food and Drug Administration released a drug safety notice about loperamide, an anti-diarrhoea medicine sold over the counter and under prescription. The drug is being used as a cheap and legally-available high, and to reduce the symptoms of opioid withdrawal. A standard dose for the medicine is 8 mg per day in divided doses, but opioid users have been taking massive doses of the drug, as much as 300 mg or more daily for weeks at a time. Taken in such high quantities, overdoses of loperamide can cause severe heart problems like ventricular arrhythmias, cardiac arrest, and death.