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Diphenoxylate is an active opioid drug used as a treatment for diarrhea. The drug affects the intestine in slowing down the contractions. This allows the body to draw out moisture from the food hence it stops the formation of liquid stools. Diphenoxylate is the main active ingredient in Lomotil, a prescribed drug that contains an antiperistaltic drug which has atropine.

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History of Diphenoxylate

Janssen Pharmaceutica discovered the Diphenoxylate in 1956. It belongs to the group of drugs known as narcotic pethidine. Also, the drug is a distant relative of alphaprodine and piritramide.

Why was the drug made?

The main purpose of the drug is to treat diarrhea. It acts mostly to slow the intestinal movements. Diphenoxylate helps decrease the occurrence and number of bowel movements. Also, the drug is comparable to narcotic pain relievers but work mainly in the gut.

Why is Diphenoxylate abused?

Prolonged use of the drug can form an addiction.  Obtaining the drug is easy, a person just needs to visit a doctor and asked the specific drug. Getting a prescription is the most common factor for the Diphenoxylate abuse.

What causes Diphenoxylate addiction?

Several factors influence Diphenoxylate abuse such as genes, psychological, and social issues. Also, medical practitioners considered addiction as a chronic disease of the nervous system.

It is hard to imagine but people can take 30 or 40 of these anti-diarrhea pills to get high. Diphenoxylate also contains properties similar to Demerol, a narcotic painkiller. Addiction is associated with the compulsive use of opioids. It also decreases control over Diphenoxylate intake. Also, the user continues to use the drug despite its negative effects on the body.

People who have existing substance abuse often turn to other drugs to experiment. They also want to try a new kind of high or when they cannot get their own drug of choice.

To lessen the addictive quality of Diphenoxylate, pharmaceutical companies added anticholinergic properties. This will make people suffer stomach aches. However, people don’t get sick. The main drawback on these drugs are the affordability, Diphenoxylate is relatively expensive.

What are the signs and symptoms of Diphenoxylate addiction?

Anyone who uses Diphenoxylate inappropriately may display uncontrolled behaviors. They may experience intense cravings for the drug. They may also engage in high stake reward events like gambling, dangerous sports even gambling.

Users may not recognize identify personal, relationship problems or intense emotional response.

Addiction causes obvious psychological symptoms as well as the physical symptoms as the results of their behaviors. Users only care for their opioid addiction cravings more than everything else.  Some of the following physical changes because of Diphenoxylate addiction include:

  • apparent weight loss (he chooses Diphenoxylate over food)
  • insomnia
  • prone to illnesses
  • nervousness
  • restlessness


What are the side effects of Diphenoxylate?

Long-term Diphenoxylate intake can result to devastating effects in the physical and psychological well-being of the user. Some of the well-known side effects include:

Minor Side Effects of Diphenoxylate

  • Blurred vision
  • confusion
  • difficult in urinating
  • dizziness/light-headedness
  • drowsiness
  • dryness of skin and mouth (may include flushing)
  • fever
  • headache
  • increased body temperature
  • mental depression
  • numbness of hands or feet
  • skin rash or itching/hives
  • swelling of the gums

Major side effects of Diphenoxylate

  • Bloating
  • constipation
  • loss of appetite
  • severe stomach pain (with vomiting and nausea)
  • Impaired vision
  • Severe drowsiness
  • Severe dryness of mouth, nose, and throat
  • fast heartbeat
  • distress breathing
  • unusual excitement
  • nervousness
  • restlessness, or irritability

Psychological side effects of Diphenoxylate

The effect of the drug in the mental health includes the fear of the associated pain of the withdrawal symptoms. Because of the existence of such fear, it impedes any attempts to recover and to seek treatment for the addiction.

Other clear symptoms of the drug include:

  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Mental Cravings
  • Restlessness.


Symptoms of overdose may include the following:

Prolonged exposure to the drug builds up a tolerance, and because of it, users take more to get the same effect. This may eventually lead to a drug overdose. Symptoms of drug overdose include:

  • changes in the size of pupils
  • dryness of the skin, nose, or mouth
  • uncontrollable eye movements
  • restlessness
  • flushing
  • fever
  • fast heart beat/erratic heartbeat
  • slowed reaction
  • excessive tiredness
  • difficulty breathing
  • loss of consciousness

What are the treatments available for Diphenoxylate addiction?


Detoxification means getting rid of Diphenoxylate in the system. Withdrawing from is not only uncomfortable but dangerous as well. Users can suddenly die from aspirations, a condition which involves breathing the contents of the stomach into the lungs. Vomiting and diarrhea can lead to electrolyte imbalance, which can cause dehydration.

Withdrawal can be very uncomfortable for Diphenoxylate, these may include:

Initial withdrawal symptoms include:

  • agitation
  • anxiety
  • muscle aches
  • eyes tearing
  • insomnia
  • runny nose
  • sweating
  • yawning

During the process, late symptoms of the withdrawal may include:

  • diarrhea
  • abdominal cramps
  • dilated pupils
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • shaking
  • chills “going cold turkey”

For Diphenoxylate abuse, it is safer to undergo in a health care facility. In this way, medical personnel can monitor the user around the clock. They can also guide the user to recover from drug abuse via therapy sessions.

Another risk of users withdrawing from the drug on their own can cause overdoses. Because these users will consume Diphenoxylate whatever they can.

Inpatient treatment program produces the highest success rate for drug addiction management. Most users of Diphenoxylate have an existing other substance abuse like barbiturates, alcohol, and narcotics.

Correspondingly, these kinds of drugs also block “psychic pain” which may signify undiagnosed psychological issues. Depression, childhood trauma, the abusive partner may result in these psychological problems.

It is important to address the underlining issues for a holistic recovery of a drug abuser.



For a life free of addiction, it is important to change the entire lifestyle. To effectively help the users, they need professional therapists. These experts can assess to plan the best effective way to recover from drug addiction.

Experts can also provide an outpatient treatment program for the user. In this way, they can go about their normal routine while attending therapy sessions. However, an outpatient treatment facility depends on the well-being and coping abilities of the user.

In an inpatient facility, users can also participate in therapy sessions in group and family therapy.

Furthermore, experts can also create activities to increase the physical wellness, and their emotional awareness.

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