Fill out this form and you will receive a response back from an Addiction Specialist who can answer all your questions. Or if you would like to speak with a Counselor right away, please call the toll-free number listed above.
Harmful Effects of OTC Abuse
OTC abuse has penetrated teen culture according to recent statistics published a study done by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America (PDFA). Results of the study indicated that emergency rooms have seen a dramatic increase in teens and young adults receiving treatment for harmful effects of over the counter (OTC) abuse. In many of the cases Dextromethorphan (DXM), one of the ingredients in many OTC cold medications was the culprit. The trend in experimental OTC drug use is riskier than it may sound. A twenty-year-old Texas man was found guilty of "intoxication manslaughter" after deliberately misusing an OTC drug. The man testified in court that he had taken thirty Coricidin tablets in order to hallucinate. While driving under the influence of the Coricidin, he struck and killed another driver.
An alarming number of teenagers are abusing a variety of over the counter (OTC) medications to get high." Results indicate that about 9 percent of teens, or around 2.2 million young people, have experienced harmful effects of OTC's while experimenting with cough syrup and other over-the-counter products purely for their intoxicating effects. Incidents are reported to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) of adolescents taking 20 to 43 tablets at a time, sometimes in combination with another OTC medication, and in some of these cases the harmful effects of DXM included coma or death.
Dextromethorphan has generated considerable attention for its mind-altering effects. But the other active ingredient in Coricidin 'chlorpheniramine maleate' has also been shown to impair judgment in users. The case of a mysterious plane crash in Florida in late 2003 was eventually linked to the abuse of the OTC chlorpheniramine. After a lengthy investigation, it was determined that the engines and propellers of the twin Cessna 441 were in perfect working order at the time of the crash. According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the pilot had a high level of chlorpheniramine in his system at the time of the crash. According to the NTSB crash report: "Post accident toxicology testing of the pilot's blood revealed chlorpheniramine, an over-the-counter sedating antihistamine, at more than ten times higher than the level expected with a typical maximum over-the-counter dose. This chilling true story is an extreme example of the harmful effects of OTC abuse. Stories like this must be shared if we as a society ever hope to curtail the harmful effects of over the counter drug abuse and addiction.
Coricidin contains dextromethorphan, a common but potentially dangerous ingredient in multi-symptom cough, cold, and flu remedies. According to the 2004 "Pulse Check" report released by the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), Coricidin HBP Cough & Cold is the "particular brand [that] contains the highest concentration of dextromethorphan, making it the most popular among users." Cough and cold tablets like Coricidin contain some of the highest amounts of DMX found in OTC cold medications.
The long term harmful effects of OTC abuse can include brain damage, seizures, coma and even death. Individuals that are abusing OTC's should seek treatment as a solution to this problem. Parents should monitor and keep track of all over the counter medications in the home, as to help prevent abuse and other harmful effects of OTC's.