The nation's ongoing opioid crisis, which has received increased attention after revelations regarding Prince's alleged painkiller addiction, is incredibly serious, with 886 people dying of drug overdoses in this city alone last year. Opioid addicts often abuse prescription drugs like Percocet and OxyContin, but a new study says users are increasingly turning to anti-diarrhea drug Imodium A-D for an over-the-counter fix.

Imodium is the brand name for a medication called loperamide, which is an opioid. It's relatively harmless when taken properly, but as more and more Americans have become addicted to opioids, its popularity as a recreational drug has skyrocketed, earning it a status as the "poor man's methadone." And according to a report published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine this week, abuse can be fatal—the report focused on two patients, one who was pronounced dead of an overdose after experiencing seizures, and another who suffered fatal cardiac arrest. Both were self-treating their opioid addictions with loperamide.

The author of the study, Upstate New York Poison Center pharmacist William Eggleston, called loperamide abuse "dumb and dangerous," adding in a statement that "Loperamide's accessibility, low cost, over-the-counter legal status and lack of social stigma all contribute to its potential for abuse." Eggleston noted that doses of the drug that were 10 or more times higher than recommended are typically used to self-treat withdrawal, while even higher doses can mimic a heroin high. His poison center received seven times more calls related to loperamide abuse or misuse from 2011 through 2015.

Eggleston's recommendation is that pharmacies regulate Imodium in a similar fashion as pseudoephedrine, a drug commonly used to make crystal meth.