OTC Drug Abuse

Written by Chloe Nicosia

A look into OTC Drug Abuse and what to look for when trying to detect an addiction

Over The Counter (OTC) drugs are, behind marijuana and alcohol, as the highest abused substances by American teens and adults in the US. Individuals believe that OTC drugs are harmless, compared to illegal drug usage. OTC Drug Abuse can be as addictive and life threatening as illegal drugs, prescription drugs, and alcohol. This belief does put its users at a higher risk for additional adverse health effects, not excluding overdoses. Particularly when taken in combination with different drugs or alcohol. OTC medications can alter your judgment, which can lead to threatening behaviors such as risky sex and hazardous driving.

OTC drugs are medications that are readily available at grocery stores, drugstores, gas stations, and quick stops. There is an incorrect, but vastly widespread belief that because there is no need need for a prescription, these various drugs at our fingertips have to be safe and less dangerous than those prescribed by a physician. The reality is, that it is precarious to abuse either those prescribed or found on the shelves.

Persons that abuse OTC drugs are likely to change to more dangerous and or illegal drugs, searching for an enhanced, cheap, and legal high. Individuals using OTC drugs do not consider the fact that over the counter drug abuse is a problem because they are just over the counter remedies to help whatever ails us. Who would imagine that using quick fix over the counter medications could cause such widespread OTC Drug Abuse.

Here are some of the most abused OTC medications that are used in the US, which lead to OTC Drug Abuse:

  • Cough medication (Dextromethorphan, or DXM)
  • Cold medicines (Pseudoephedrine)
  • Motion sickness pills
  • Pain relievers (Acetaminophen, Ibuprofen)
  • Caffeine medicines
  • Energy drinks
  • Diet pills
  • Laxatives

Dextromethorphan is an ingredient used in more than 100 OTC medications that lead to over the counter drug abuse. 1 out of 10 teens have admitted to using cough or cold medications to get high. In large quantities, they have been known to cause euphoria, alterations of sound and color, and “out-of-body” deliriums and euphoria that may last upwards of 6 hours.

Additional dangerous side effects that can be experienced are heart racing, vomiting, diminished judgment, seizures, blurry vision, lethargy, shallow breathing, and decreased muscle movement. Using with alcohol or other drugs in large amounts can lead to death. Dextromethorphan is an addictive drug. It can produce withdrawal symptoms, as well as cause depression and the processing of thoughts, when trying to stop this medication. There have been cases of nerve cell and bone marrow damage, high blood pressure and permanent brain damage have occurred.

As consumers we are saturated by commercials that lead us to believe that by using these medications at any time we need them is a safe and quick way to find relief.  So if you are unsure if someone you love or you, yourself are struggling with OTC drug abuse, please give us a call at 1-800-429-7690 and ask us some questions. Remember there are no imprudent questions nor is there any shame in seeking the help you need. Addiction is something that can happen to anyone. We are all susceptible to OTC Drug Abuse. Let us help you find treatment centers near you that will meet all of your needs.

 

 

Sources:

https://www.chpa.org/MarketStats.aspx

https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/commonly-abused-drugs-charts

http://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/dextromethorphan-oral-route/description/drg-20068661