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Over the Counter Drug Addiction
Many drugs available over the counter (OTC) can be addictive to different degrees. Parents purchase over the counter drugs, never thinking that their teen may be abusing these products and eventually become addicted. In fact, some of the ingredients in OTC drugs are commonly used in the production of illicit drugs. For example, some cough and cold medications are used to produce the illegal drug methamphetamines. Others may be used directly, such as diet aids, because they contain drugs that produce pleasurable effects. Although these drugs have negative effects, people ignore those effects in an attempt to get the high that the drugs produce, and in time build a tolerance to the over the counter drug and this process often results in a dangerous addiction to the OTC medication. A drug is a drug, and your body can't tell the difference between what's legal and what's not. If you abuse over the counter medications to get high, you are at risk for addiction. Although a number of over the counter medications can potentially be addictive, such as sleep aids, diet pills, and motion sickness pills, the ingredient Dextromethorphan, also known as DMX, which is found in many over the counter cough medicines, is by far the most frequently abused.
Dextromethorphan (DXM) is a cough suppressant that is widely available over-the-counter. It is a synthetic substance related to codeine, but without the sedating, side-effects. The primary use of DXM is as a cough suppressant, and when it is used for this purpose it is in most cases a safe and effective over the counter drug. Slang terms for dextromethorphan vary by product, but some of the more common names are tussin, robo, dex, triple C, skittles, rome, cherries, and candy coated chaos. With higher doses users may experience intense euphoria, vivid imagination, and closed-eye hallucinations. When this over the counter drug is taken large doses, intense changes in consciousness have been noticed, along with out-of-body experiences or even psychosis. When taken far above its standard medical dosage, dextromethorphan is classified as a dissociative drug. Many people find such large doses to be extremely unpleasant and do not want to repeat them, others continue abusing this potent over the counter drug until usage develops into a full blown addiction that requires the user to seek drug treatment. Individuals using high doses of this potent over the counter drug have reported experiencing various side effects from recreational use of dextromethorphan such as itching, vomiting, blurred vision, dilated pupils, sweating, fever, disassociation, nausea, drowsiness, confusion, excitation, hypertension, shallow respiration, slurred speech, urinary retention, and increases in heart rate. Dextromethorphan can also cause the user to have dependence to the over the counter drug resulting in addiction. It should also be noted that DXM related deaths occur most often from mental and physical impairment, which can lead to fatal accidents as a direct correlation to the abuse of this over the counter drug. Keep in mind that any substance, including over the counter drugs, can be addictive, to some degree, depending on the individual user and result in addiction.
Other over the counter drugs such as sleep aids, diet pills, and medications for motion sickness, such as Dramamine, can also be dangerous when abused, and cause a host of dangerous side effects and have the potential for addiction.
Some addicts may resort to over the counter drugs when trying to quit using their original prescription or illegal drug of choice. These substitutions are part of the cycle of chemical addiction. Substituting over the counter drugs for previous substances of abuse is not the answer. The solution to over the counter drug addiction can be found in a drug rehab treatment center with a proven track record in helping individuals overcome their addictions to OTC drugs.
Additional resources for substance abuse treatment:Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Admin
American Psychological Association
National Institute on Drug Abuse