Anyone can buy over the counter (OTC) medicine at drugstores and supermarkets without their doctor’s prescriptions. They’re usually safe to use when you follow the recommended doses. However, some people abuse them. Although they’re less potent than illegal and prescription drugs, over the counter drug abuse is still dangerous.
Dangers of Over the Counter Drug Abuse
You can use OTC meds for various ailments from suppressing cough to treating mild pain. However, using them to self-medicate for anxiety, depression or to get high is over the counter drug abuse. Millions of young people between the ages of 12 and 25 use nonprescription cold and cough medicines to get high.
This behavior can cause health problems such as death, heart trouble, kidney failure and memory loss. People who abuse OTC meds might also start using illicit or more dangerous drugs in search of stronger effects.
Common Drugs People Abuse
Among the many types of OTC meds, people tend to abuse a lot of the same ones. It’s important to be vigilant about the effects of abusing these drugs.
People abuse pills that contain caffeine for the energy boost or buzz they provide. When combined with energy drinks, the effects kick in faster. The problem is that large doses of caffeine can cause gastric reflux disease, irregular heart rate, and panic attacks. Serious dehydration is a concern too.
Pseudoephedrine is a nasal decongestant, stimulant and active ingredient in most cold medicines. People use it as an ingredient to make methamphetamine because it has similar amphetamine properties. They abuse the drug to achieve an excitable, hyperactive feeling. However, this abuse can lead to dizziness, high blood pressure irregular heartbeat, seizures and breathing problems.
Dextromethorphan (DXM) is probably the most commonly abused OTC med because it’s very accessible. It’s the active ingredient in more than 100 cold and cough drugs. People abuse it to get high, and that state can last for up to six hours. However, the drug can cause blurred vision, brain damage, rapid heart rate, shakiness, and vomiting.
Large doses of diet pills can make people feel high. Although some people start using them to lose a few pounds, the drugs are addictive. Several of the ingredients are also dangerous, so the Food and Drug Administration banned them. Some cause heart failure, tremors, irregular and rapid heartbeat, and even death.
Dimenhydrinate is the active ingredient in many motion sickness pills. However, high doses of this drug can lead to hallucinations, irregular heartbeat, nausea, seizures, and tinnitus. It can even cause coma and death.
Get Rehab Before Addiction Develops
With prolonged over the counter drug abuse, there’s a real risk for the development of addiction. If you or a loved one has a drug abuse problem, it’s important to get help before addiction develops.
Healing Springs Ranch is a caring rehab center that tailors treatment according to your needs. Taking a whole-person approach to drug treatment, we offer a range of services, including:
- Short- and long-term residential programs
- Family program
- Dual diagnosis treatment
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- Dialectical behavior therapy
- Equine therapy