Dicyclomine is a prescription drug that’s sold in the United States under the name Bentyl. It is primarily used to treat functional bowel disorders. Functional bowel disorders are issues that affect the middle and lower gastrointestinal tract. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is among these gastrointestinal problems that can cause a range of symptoms, from debilitating abdominal pain to mild indigestion. However, IBS is a common condition that affects around 10 to 15% of people in the United States. 

Dicyclomine is an antispasmodic drug that can help treat IBS and problems in the bowls that are related to muscle spasms. The drug also has anticholinergic effects, which allows it to be useful in treating urinary incontinence. 

This useful medication can help people with a troubling and painful disorder gain some quality of life. However, what are the drawbacks to this medication? Is Bentyl addictive? Learn more about dicyclomine and its possible side effects.

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 can be taken via capsules, tablets, syrups, and intramuscular injection. When you first start taking the drug, you’ll take a 20-milligram oral dose and gradually increase to a 40-milligram dose

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

Is Dicyclomine Addictive?

Though it’s possible to develop a chemical dependence on dicyclomine as your body gets used to the drug, addiction is a separate issue. While dependence is a product of chemical changes as your body adapts to a drug, addiction is a disease that affects the reward center of the brain. Addiction is usually caused by drugs that cause euphoric effects, which usually means they have a significant effect on feel-good chemicals like dopamine or endorphins. But is there such a thing as a dicyclomine high

While dicyclomine isn’t known to have a high potential for addiction, it can cause some psychoactive effects in high enough doses. It can cause an intoxicating euphoria in some people. But that euphoria may come with other side effects, including hallucinations, anxiety, and insomnia.

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

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

Since dicyclomine can cause some euphoric effects, it may have some potential for abuse, though it’s not commonly found among recreational drugs. In the United States, you just need a prescription to buy and use dicyclomine, and it’s not listed among federally controlled substances, which means the government doesn’t consider it to have a high potential for misuse. However, federal drug scheduling is largely based on drugs that are currently being misused, not each drug’s effects and chemistry. 

Dicyclomine is reported to have some euphoric effects, but cases of abuse and substance use disorders are rare.

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.

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.

Can You Overdose on Dicyclomine?

Like many prescription drugs, it is possible to overdose on dicyclomine. High doses make it more likely for you to experience some of the drug’s negative side effects. An overdose can produce extremely unpleasant symptoms, including headaches, nausea, vomiting, blurred vision, dizziness, dry mouth, and difficulty swallowing. In some cases, a dicyclomine overdose can cause overstimulation in your central nervous system, which can include symptoms like seizures and convulsions. You may also experience muscle weakness, numbness, or paralysis.

But how deadly is a dicyclomine overdose? 

It’s difficult to tell how dangerous an overdose is for an individual person. Many of the symptoms of overdose can be life-threatening. According to the FDA, a deadly dose of the drug hasn’t been definitively identified. The highest recorded dose that was survived was taken by an adult that took 1500 mg. However, much lower doses can cause deadly complications in many people.

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.

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