Problems that affect your gastrointestinal system can be distressing. Irritable bowel syndrome is a relatively common condition that affects a person’s digestive system causing painful stomach cramps and diarrhea. While the problem is often chronic, there are treatment options, including a medication called Bentyl.
Bentyl is a medication that doctors prescribe to alleviate intestinal and stomach spasms. It is most commonly used for irritable bowel syndrome. It is also known generically as dicyclomine.
Though rare, some people abuse this medication to experience euphoria.
Its peak effects are felt within 90 minutes of use, though dicyclomine has a half-life of nine to 10 hours.
This drug is not commonly tested in drug screenings.
What Is Bentyl?
Bentyl is a brand name for a drug called dicyclomine that’s used to treat functional bowel and irritable bowel syndrome. The drug is an antispasmodic drug, which means it can help stop smooth muscle spasms that can contribute to IBS. It’s also an anticholinergics agent, which means it blocks a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine. Anticholinergics can be used to treat issues like urinary incontinence.
Bentyl was first approved for medical use in the U.S. in 1950. Today, it’s a commonly prescribed drug in the country, with more than 3 million prescriptions in 2018. Bentyl can be injected into the muscles or taken by mouth. It’s not recommended in children younger than six months old and nursing mothers. However, it has been used to treat baby colic, but evidence for its effectiveness is limited for that use. It’s also not recommended for people with unstable cardiovascular conditions. Cardiovascular issues are the most serious adverse reactions that Bentyl causes.
Bentyl can cause some other common side effects like dizziness, dry mouth, blurred vision, nausea, and sleepiness. However, the drug is relatively safe and well-tolerated. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), in clinical trials, 9% of patients stopped taking the drug because of uncomfortable symptoms, compared to 2% of the placebo group. However, side effects and adverse reactions may be more common and more severe if the drug is misused or abused.
How Quickly Does Bentyl Work?
If you’re seeking relief for uncomfortable IBS symptoms, how fast does dicyclomine work to treat symptoms? Unfortunately, Bentyl doesn’t begin working immediately. Rather, the drug begins working within one to two hours. By then, you’ll start to experience relief from stomach and intestinal cramps caused by IBS. To maintain relief from those symptoms, Bentyl is usually prescribed to be taken four times per day.
Is Bentyl Addictive?
Prescription drugs are more dangerous when they are misused or abused beyond what is directed by a doctor. Is Bentyl addictive, or can it cause chemical dependence? In the United States, dicyclomine is not a controlled substance beyond the need to have a prescription to purchase it. Unlike other medications, like benzodiazepines and opioids, there are no special federal regulations on Bentyl. That means it hasn’t been determined to have significant abuse liability.
Bentyl misuse is rare, especially when compared to other prescriptions that are misused. However, Bentyl does cause some central nervous system depressing effects, which is what alcohol and depressants do that causes a euphoric high. A case study in 2013 reported that an 18-year-old girl misused dicyclomine for a year and a half. It resulted in anticholinergic toxicity, which was treated with abstinence and rehab. However, even the study noted that dicyclomine abuse is rare.
In high doses, the drug could cause delirium and hallucinations that some drug users may seek out of curiosity. However, dicyclomine abuse is also likely to cause uncomfortable side effects like difficulty swallowing, blurred vision, vomiting, and nausea. Drugs that cause limited euphoric effects and several uncomfortable effects aren’t likely to lead to a substance use disorder.
Dicyclomine is a type of anticholinergic drug. Overall, abuse rates of this type of medicine are low.
When people do abuse this drug, they do so because of its psychedelic and mood-altering effects. The effects that people seek range from increased sociability and euphoria to hallucinations.
When abusing this drug, there is the potential for side effects. The following are the less serious side effects:
- Blurry vision
- Mild constipation
- Stuffy nose
- Dry mouth
Dicyclomine can also cause serious side effects that require medical attention. The risk of these side effects increases when someone takes this drug at higher doses.
- Severe constipation
- Increased body temperature
- Pounding heartbeat
- Hallucinations, confusion, or unusual behavior or thoughts
People who abuse this drug are also at risk for an overdose. Overdose symptoms may include the following:
- Dilated pupils
- Difficulty swallowing
- Upset stomach
- Blurry vision
- Dry, hot skin
- Dry mouth
Dangerous Effects of Bentyl
When someone is abusing dicyclomine, they are at a higher risk for some of the most serious side effects. Some people have reported experiencing psychosis when using this medication. Symptoms included disorientation, hallucinations, agitation, confusion, short-term memory loss, and insomnia. When this issue occurs, the symptoms typically go away within 12 to 24 hours of the person no longer using Bentyl.
Heat exhaustion is another problem with Bentyl abuse. This can occur since the drug reduces how much a person sweats. Sweating is an important mechanism for cooling the body.
Heat exhaustion is a condition where the body has overheated. If someone has heat exhaustion and they do not immediately start cooling the body, they are at risk of experiencing heat stroke, which can be fatal in some instances.
When Someone is Experiencing Heat Exhaustion, the Following Symptoms May be Present:
- Heavy sweating
- Rapid, weak pulse
- Muscle cramps
- Moist, cool skin
- Low blood pressure when the person stands up
When taking high doses of dicyclomine, people are at risk for anticholinergic toxicity. The symptoms of this toxicity are relatively similar to those of a dicyclomine overdose.
- Pupil dilation
- Mental state changes
- Urinary retention
- Decreased bowel sounds
- Increased blood pressure
- Flushing of the skin
- Increased heart rate
- Intestinal obstruction
- Sudden muscle contractions that can result in abnormal body movements
Like an overdose, anticholinergic toxicity is considered a medical emergency.
How Long does Dicyclomine Detox Take?
There are no guidelines regarding how long it takes to detox from Bentyl. The peak values of this drug occur 60 to 90 minutes after someone takes an oral dose.
The metabolism of this drug was not studied. It is known that most excretions are through urine.
One study determined that the mean half-life of plasma eliminated for this drug was about 1.8 hours, though this study used a single dose of the drug. In other studies, plasma concentrations were found for up to 24 hours.
The established half-life of this drug is nine to 10 hours.
During the detox process, it is possible to experience withdrawal symptoms.
- High blood pressure
These withdrawal symptoms are based on information from a single case study. This same person also experienced insomnia, occasional tremors, blurry vision, agitation, and abdominal cramps during the withdrawal process. When her condition was checked six months after withdrawal began, she had no more withdrawal symptoms and showed no drug-seeking behavior.
How Long Can Bentyl be Detected on a Drug Test?
Dicyclomine does not show up on traditional drug tests. There is no direct information regarding how long this drug remains in urine, hair, blood, or saliva.
Given the drug’s half-life, it can be estimated that it would not remain in urine, saliva, or blood for more than three to seven days. Hair tests can usually show the presence of drugs for a longer time.
If someone is taking Bentyl and they take a drug test, it is possible for the test to have a false positive for LSD. If the person was not legally prescribed dicyclomine, this could be problematic when trying to explain the false positive result for LSD.
If someone has a legal prescription for this medication, they should bring proof of this whenever they go for a drug test. It is unknown if the dose of the drug makes it more or less likely that someone will experience a false positive.
The false positive results are typically observed with urine screenings. This type of drug test is the most common type used for pre-employment screenings and drug tests as a result of legal repercussions.