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Which Over The Counter Drugs Are Addictive?

Over-the-counter medications, or OTCs, are not typically as potent as prescription and illicit drugs but they are much easier to get–you can buy them without a prescription at any pharmacy or grocery store–and they can be harmful when abused.

Abuse is generally considered any use other than the intended purpose and recommended dosage. OTCs are are often abused by children and teenagers because they are easy to get–very few states set age limits for buying OTCs–and are kept in most houses.

The most commonly abused OTCs fall into three categories: cold and flu medicines, pain relievers, and weight-loss drugs.

Dextromethorphan (DXM) is a cough suppressant in most OTC cold medicines. It’s the stuff in NyQuil that makes you feel spacey. If you take too much it can produce a dissociative hallucinogenic state similar to ketamine. Your vision may become distorted, as well as your body perception. You may experience excitement or loss of time perception.

Pseudoephedrine, the active ingredient in Sudafed, is the stuff that keeps your nose from running and keeps you on your feet at work when you should absolutely be home in bed. It can also be turned into meth. It is primarily abused as a stimulant. Adverse effects include anxiety, insomnia, and dizziness. More extreme side effects might include tachycardia, palpitations, arrhythmia, and hallucinations.

OTC pain medicines include ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and aspirin. They are perhaps the most commonly used OTCs. Many people carry OTC painkillers with them, or leave a bottle at work. The effects are mild–they may relieve a headache, if it’s not too bad. OTC painkillers are most frequently abused by people with chronic pain. Taking them too frequently or in too high a dosage–particularly acetaminophen–may lead to stomach pain and permanent liver damage.

Weight-loss drugs can include anything from “snake oil” to amphetamines. You never really know what you’re getting. Some drugs, like Hydroxycut have been found toxic, banned, reformulated, and reintroduced to the market several times. Weight-loss drugs are variously supposed to speed up metabolism, suppress appetite, and block fat absorption. Unless you have a diagnosed bariatric condition, it’s probably best to stay away from these entirely. Weight-loss drugs are often abused by people with eating disorders.

It’s easy to think that since these drugs are legal and widely available, they must be safe. Typically, when taken as directed, they are safe. Despite their relative safety, it’s important to remember that they are designed to alter your physiology and so have the potential to be addictive and damaging when not used as directed.

Detox from over the counter drugs can include serious health risks. Start your journey to recovery in a safe medical detox center offering the best in comfort and clinical care. Call The Gardens Wellness Center today for information on residential, medical detox programs:  (844) 325-9168