The death of a 23-year-old man in January in Red Bud was a bit of a mystery until the Randolph County coroner requested a second round of toxicology tests, this time specifying loperamide.
He had overdosed on Imodium, an anti-diarrheal medication sold over the counter, State's Attorney Jeremy Walker said.
Walker, Coroner Carlos Barbour and Sheriff Shannon Wolff put a statement out on Facebook on Tuesday, asking residents to watch their household's use of the drug, and for stores to place the drug behind a counter to "combat excessive purchase or thefts."
Large amounts of loperamide cause euphoria; it is an opioid. The drug does not reach the brain as easily as other opioids such as heroin or fentanyl, but taking large amounts does provide a high, according to a story in Forbes.
"I personally had not heard of it until somebody reached out from my local store," said Wolff, the sheriff. He said someone from the store called and asked, "Hey, do you have any idea why someone would want to buy large amounts of this?"
"It's a terrible thing, to think that's what it's come to. This opioid epidemic has forced people to go this route," Wolff said.
Walker said his office had noticed a few months ago that some of the retail theft prosecutions included Imodium or other drugs that contain loperamide. One, specifically, earned some laughter in his office because the theft was of three or four boxes of Imodium and a can of Spam.
"We kind of had to educate ourselves," he said.
After doing so, and getting the toxicology results back, the three put out the statement on Facebook.
There's nothing illegal about having Imodium, or even of buying more than one box, Walker said.
"And we're not saying it needs to be (illegal). It's just that if you start seeing in a trash can that there's three boxes of this being used, and you don't have a sick kid in the house, then you need to be concerned," Walker said.