Commonly Abused Over-the-Counter Drugs

Types of OTC Drugs and Side Effects of Abuse

Over-the-counter (OTC) drugs are medications that can be purchased without a prescription from a healthcare provider. When used appropriately and taken in proper doses, these drugs have been deemed safe and effective for use by the public in order to treat a range of conditions from allergies, to pain relief to the common cold. In contrast, prescription drugs are dispensed by pharmacists at the request of a physician’s prescription but like OTC drugs, are also misused.

Aside from marijuana, legal medicines (including OTC drugs) are the most commonly abused substances in the United States. Easy for both teens and adults to get ahold of, many of these medications are misused due to their psychoactive, or mind-altering properties. Dextromethorphan (DXM) is just one example of an addictive substance found in OTC drugs.

A type of dissociative drug, DXM is found in over 100 OTC cough and cold medications (i.e. Coricidin and Robitussin) and can lead to hallucinations, sensory deprivation, impaired judgment and other dangerous side-effects.

Commonly abused OTC drugs include:

  • Caffeine pills
  • Laxatives
  • Cough and cold medicines (dextromethorphan)
  • Pain relievers (acetaminophen and ibuprofen)
  • Nasal decongestants (pseudoephedrine)
  • Diet pills (ephedra)
  • Motion sickness pills (dimenhydrinate and diphenhydramine)
  • List of additional OTC drugs

When misused, OTC medications can lead to a wide-range of short-term side-effects (i.e. lethargy, dizziness, slurred speech, high blood pressure, etc.) depending on the drug being ingested. Long-term effects of abusing these drugs may include seizures, brain and liver damage and comas, any of which can lead to death.

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Treatment for OTC Drug Addiction

OTC drug addiction is when an individual recurrently consumes medications, usually in larger-than-recommended doses, even when symptoms are not present. This abuse can cause an increase in the amount of dopamine released in the brain, which then triggers feelings of pleasure. Many people seek to repeatedly recreate this enjoyable, but temporary sensation, which is often what leads to lasting addiction.

Continued OTC drug abuse can lead to a physical dependence as well as withdrawal symptoms if the habit is stopped. These withdrawal symptoms may be physical, emotional, or cognitive in nature.

For those who are suffering from OTC drug addiction or withdrawal symptoms, Talbott Recovery offers a drug addiction treatment program to help individuals recover from various states of substance abuse. Our campuses can be found in two cities in Georgia which include Atlanta and Dunwoody.

At Talbott Recovery we are here to help. If you or a loved one is seeking treatment for an OTC drug addiction, please consider contacting us for more information or with any questions you might have. Call 678-251-3189 now.

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