Rarely abused drugs – 2: Dicyclomine
Taking medicines without doctor’s recommendation or consuming more than the prescribed dosage can lead to serious health repercussions. A prolonged use of such prescription medications may lead to a dependence on them, owing to their ability to cause a euphoric “high”. However, one of the major causes of prescription abuse, especially among teenagers, is the illegal sharing of prescribed medicines among peers and friends. But, when it comes to women and the elderly people, the primary reason behind the high rate of prescription drug abuse is the tendency to over use and misuse the prescribed medication (usually the painkillers).
Precisely, the three most commonly abused prescription drugs are opioids (pain relievers), central nervous system (CNS) depressants and stimulants. However, there are certain drugs that are rarely abused, but can be deadly, if abused for a long time. One such drug is dicyclomine, commonly used to treat irritable bowel syndrome, which can cause serious side effects when misused or abused.
Therapeutic use of addictive drugs should be done with strict vigilance
A case study, titled “A rare case of dicyclomine abuse” published in the Journal of Young Pharmacists in 2013, discussed the rare abuse of the drug by an 18-year old unmarried female patient. According to the study, the patient was admitted to the hospital following a fever that prolonged for 1.5 months with body temperature rising between 100 and 101 °F. While the patient complained of severe generalized weakness and palpitations along with the fever, there were diurnal variation or chill and rigor associated with the condition. A further investigation revealed that the patient was also experiencing progressive blurring of vision, dryness in eyes, chronic constipation and diminished urinary frequency, as well as difficulty in talking and swallowing for the last six months.
Besides, the patient also reported to experience occasional euphoria, hallucinations, fatigue, short-term memory loss, along with a few episodes of altered behaviors, including decreased anxiety, mannerisms and agitation. A detailed interrogation revealed that the patient was prescribed oral paracetamol, norfloxacin and intramuscular dicyclomine to cure fever and other symptoms related with acute infective enterocolitis. The patient, despite getting adequate relief, continued to self-inject intramuscular dicyclomine on a regular basis with dosage varying from 20 to 40 mg once to thrice daily three to four times per week.
Effects of dicyclomine abuse
Ideally used to relieve muscle spasms, especially in stomach and intestines, by blocking a certain substance naturally produced by the body, dicyclomine can cause severe harmful effect on the body when misused or abused. The drug has the potential to impair thinking capability and also causes dizziness and muscle weakness.
A regular use of the drug can also lead to side effects such as confusion, hallucinations, unusual thoughts or behavior, fast or uneven heart rate, etc. A person hooked on to the drug is at a higher risk of suffering from fever and heat stroke. Therefore, patients with coronary heart disease or high blood pressure should avoid a long-term use of the drug to prevent life-threatening consequences.
Road to recovery
Dicyclomine is one of the most rarely abused prescription drugs. But its effects can be detrimental, if abused for a long time. The damaging effects of drug abuse can be felt at all the levels of the American society. This has increased the number of challenges for the government and society. Overall, there is a need to ensure holistic treatment through specialized centers and under the supervision of counselors, physicians, psychiatrists and psychologists.
If you or your loved one is suffering from drug addiction, contact the 24/7 Drug Addiction Helpline to get the best recovery interventions. Call at our 24/7 helpline number 866-403-5607 or chat online for further information on inpatient drug abuse treatment centers as well as outpatient drug abuse treatment centers in the U.S.
Read the other articles of the series, “Rarely abused drugs:”