Many of us associate Imodium as the “go-to” solution for diarrhea, but the drug increasingly is being abused as a way to get high, especially for those trying to wean themselves off opioids. Unfortunately, like most drugs, Imodium abuse comes with serious health consequences, such as heart problems. Now, the Federal Drug Administration is contemplating whether to start monitoring Imodium sales, as it does with many over-the-counter cough medicines.

Imodium, or loperamide, its main active ingredient, is a common medication used to treat occasional diarrhea and works by decreasing the number of bowel movements a person has or by making the stool less watery. However, when taken in excess, the drug can cause a euphoric feeling and is commonly abused for this reason. Unfortunately, America is currently experiencing a surge in opioid abuse, and as a result, Imodium abuse is simultaneously on the rise.

For example, one press release cited a 10-fold increase in Imodium-abuse postings to a web-based form from 2010 to 2011. Although most Imodium abusers cite that they use the drug to help treat their withdrawal symptoms from other more serious drugs such as heroin, these numbers are still very troubling due to the drug’s serious side effects.

In high doses, loperamide can cause abnormal heart rhythms and disturbance. This risk can increase if the drug is taken along with other medication that can react with loperamide, NBC News reported. Since the drug was first approved in 1977, the FDA got reports of 48 cases of serious heart problems connected to the drug, Newser reported. Ten of these cases were fatal, and more than half came after 2010, reflective of the nation’s new opioid crisis. What’s more, most experts believe that a large number of loperamide-related heart problems go unreported.

“This is another reminder that all drugs, including those sold without a prescription, can be dangerous when not used as directed," William Eggleston, PharmD, of the Upstate New York Poison Center, in Syracuse, New York, who recently lead a study on Imodium abuse in the U.S. said in a recent statement.

Abuse of opioids in the United States is largely attributed to over-prescription of pain medications by doctors. For example, between 2000 and 2014, around half a million people in the United States died as a result of drug overdose — this comes out to about 78 deaths each day from an opioid overdose, Medical Daily reported. Many users will often turn to non-prescription means, such as heroin, to get their fix once they become unable to get their drug-of-choice. Some states, such as Florida, are taking measures to address this epidemic by enforcing laws to better monitor the prescription of these medications, and results have been promising.

The disturbing news of more widespread Imodium abuse has caused some researchers to push for the regulation of the drug’s sales. “We continue to evaluate this safety issue and will determine if additional FDA actions are needed," the FDA said, as reported by NBC News. In addition to monitoring, the FDA states that the public needs to become more aware of the problem. The public is urged to take immediate action if they see that someone has fainted or stopped breathing following suspected or confirmed Imodium abuse.