OKLAHOMA CITY - Mitch Hild was just 29 years old when he lost his 15-year struggle with drug addiction.
“My son was a world-class cellist, gifted musician, high IQ,” said Joel Hild. “Just everybody loved him. Didn’t have a mean bone in his body.”
Joel got the call he’d been dreading on the Fourth of July.
Mitch had overdosed.
“We were waiting for it. He had disappeared. He had tried to get better a lot of times,” Joel said.
The toxicology report did not reveal any of the usual suspects; no alcohol, marijuana, heroin or cocaine.
The only drug in his system was loperamide, and it was a lethal dose.
The medical examiner listed Mitch’s cause of death as “acute loperamide toxicity.”
“We need to make people aware that this is a thing. It’s available,” Joel said.
Loperamide is actually an opiate and, when taken in large doses, can get someone high.
It is the active ingredient in Imodium and other anti-diarrheal medications, and it’s readily available over the counter.
“This is a pharmaceutical opiate that is manufactured to be put in an over-the-counter-drug. And, it’s available for people to get as much as they want, any time they want. And, that doesn’t make sense,” Joel said.
Since 2015, the calls about loperamide exposure to the Oklahoma Poison Control Center have doubled.
“We figured this is coming in on the tails of the opioid crisis that currently the entire country is battling,” said Scott Schaeffer, Managing Director for the Oklahoma Center for Poison & Drug Information. “When people intentionally take too much loperamide, we see the same type of side effects that you might see with an opioid overdose.”
Joel is now working with his state representative to regulate the sale of Imodium, much like Oklahoma regulates pseudoephedrine.
“Just slide it in with Sudafed and, the second they do that, it will save a life. That minute that the kid can’t go in there and get a box full of Imodium, he’s going to live that day,” Joel said.
He’s hoping to save other families from the grief he’s living with every day.
“It’d be something good that came out of my son dying,” Joel said.
State representative Cyndi Munson said she is working on a bill for the next legislative session that would regulate the sale of Imodium.