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Dicyclomine Abuse: Symptoms & Treatment Options

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a legitimate medical condition treated with medications like dicyclomine. This medication has been used in the past to treat peptic ulcer disease.

Dicyclomine has also been used to treat gastrointestinal conditions that involve muscular spasms.

Dicyclomine is sold under the brand name Bentyl. Though it is relatively safe to use, the medication can cause dependency and become habit-forming.

How Dicyclomine Works

Dicyclomine works by decreasing a chemical messenger (neurotransmitter) called acetylcholine. The reducing of this chemical messenger results in a decrease in mucus and muscle spasms. It can also cause other unwanted side effects in patients with IBS.

Side effects can include constipation, dry mouth, and even dizziness. More alarming is that missing a dose or not taking the medication as instructed could result in much worse symptoms. As part of its regimen, some amount of it must always be in the body so dicyclomine can work. 

Can You Become Dependent on Dicyclomine?

It is possible to build dependence on dicyclomine. Healthline reports that the medication has to be present in the body so it can treat signs of IBS appropriately. This is a form of physical dependence, as the body will learn to operate with dicyclomine through time to fight off symptoms of IBS.

Taking too much of this medication could result in euphoria and even overdose. Common symptoms of taking too much dicyclomine are:

  • Inability to move
  • Overall weakness
  • Dry skin
  • Dilated pupils

Side Effects 

Even though dicyclomine can benefit people who have IBS and other gastrointestinal conditions that involve unpleasant muscle spasms, it has been linked to several side effects that cause patients to quit using it suddenly. These include the following:

  • Blurred vision
  • Nausea
  • Confusion
  • Agitation
  • Drowsiness
dicyclomine

If you want to stop using dicyclomine, it is best to discuss this with your doctor. Still, most of these side effects are known to go away after a few weeks.

Unlike other medication that causes cravings, dicyclomine does not present classic withdrawal symptoms. Instead, it stops working as well as it has in the past. It may also stop working at all if you miss a dose or stop taking it cold turkey.

Dicyclomine can cause people to feel euphoria if too much of it is taken. Abuse of this medication is rare, but it does occur.

Possibility for Abuse

A 2013 case study published by the Journal of Young Pharmacists chronicles a patient who misused dicyclomine for 1.5 years. She checked into a hospital and had a fast heart rate, was confused and was constipated frequently.

Her doctors eventually discovered that she became dependent on dicyclomine after using it for legitimate treatment. She had grown used to its effects and continued to misuse her medication. The patient was questioned, and it was discovered that she increased her dosage on her own.

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The patient became tolerant to and dependent on dicyclomine. On sites such as Reddit, some people also have self-reported feeling euphoric after using dicyclomine even though they have taken less than the maximum dose.

Signs of Misuse

Though misuse of dicyclomine is rare, prescription drug abuse is on the rise in the United States. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) says overdose deaths because of prescription medication have gone up between 1999 and 2016.

NIDA reports that most people misuse prescription medications because they are relatively easy to get, whereas drugs on the street might be harder to obtain. They might get prescription drugs from family or friends who have a legitimate medical prescription.

Common signs of prescription medication misuse are:

  • Taking another person’s prescription
  • Using the medication in ways that are not prescribed, such as taking it more often or in larger doses
  • Misusing medication even if it has negative consequences on well-being, relationships, work, or academic studies

Treatment is available, per the case study mentioned by the Journal of Young Pharmacists. The patient was treated through a rehabilitation program and had to abstain from dicyclomine completely. Later, she was able to get on with her life without cravings. 

Conclusion

If you feel that you may be misusing dicyclomine, talk to your doctor. They will be able to refer you to a treatment center, help you taper off dicyclomine, and provide other information you need to make a safe recovery.

While abuse of dicyclomine is rare, it is possible. If you need help, it is readily available.

Sources

(October 2018) Dicyclomine. Livertox, National Institutes of Health. Retrieved March 2019 from https://livertox.nih.gov/Dicyclomine.htm

(November 2017) All About Bentyl for IBS. Verywell Health. Retrieved March 2019 from https://www.verywellhealth.com/bentyl-for-ibs-an-overview-1945160

(January 2019) What You Need To Know About Bentyl (Dicyclomine). Verywell Health. Retrieved March 2019 from https://www.verywellhealth.com/what-you-need-to-know-about-bentyl-dicyclomine-1941569

(September 2017) Dicyclomine. MedlinePlus. Retrieved March 2019 from https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a684007.html

(September 2013) A rare case of dicyclomine abuse. Journal of Young Pharmacists. Retrieved March 2019 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3812884/

(January 2018) Dicyclomine, Oral Tablet. Healthline. Retrieved March 2019 from https://www.healthline.com/health/dicyclomine-oral-tablet

(March 2011) I took 4 bentyl (dicyclomine) and am seeing all kinds of weird shit now in my visual field (static, dots, color blurs, etc.). Am I having a side effect or adverse reaction? Reddit. Retrieved March 2019 from https://www.reddit.com/r/Drugs/comments/e57ap/i_took_4_bentyl_dicyclomine_and_am_seeing_all/

(December 2018) Misuse of Prescription Drugs. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Retrieved March 2019 from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/misuse-prescription-drugs/overview

(October 2018) Prescription drug abuse: overview. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved March 2019 from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/prescription-drug-abuse/symptoms-causes/syc-20376813

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