OTC Drugs that are Commonly Abused
There are so many OTC drugs that are commonly abused. The issue is that so many people don't realize that these drugs are addictive. However, there are a growing number of people who regularly abuse them.
It's possible that you have been abusing over the counter drugs yourself. You may have even formed an addiction to them. It's so important for you to understand the dangers of OTC medicine. Once you know how dangerous OTC drugs are, you can begin to take the steps to get help to stop.
The Over the Counter Drugs Definition
It's important to know the over the counter medication definition when you're talking about this topic. According to the FDA, OTC drugs are those that have been found safe and appropriate for use without the supervision of a healthcare professional. These are medications that can be purchased without a prescription.
There are many different types of OTC medicines. Some states have laws about how old you need to be to purchase them. In many states, these drugs are available on drug store shelves for anyone to buy.
For the most part, OTC drugs are known to be relatively safe. However, any of them can be abused. Sometimes abuse occurs accidentally when taking too much of the drug. Sometimes abuse occurs for recreational reasons.
A List of OTC Items That Can Lead to Abuse and Addiction
There are many different types of OTC items and medications that can lead to abuse and eventually, addiction. It's important that you know the dangers of these drugs. Taking them recreationally can be dangerous for you.
Common OTC items that are abused include:
- Diet pills
- Sleeping aids
- DXM cough medicine
- Pain relievers
- Caffeine pills
- Laxatives and herbal diuretics
- Sexual performance medications
- Herbal ecstasy
- Other types of herbal drugs
Who is Likely to Abuse OTC Medications?
Anyone is able to abuse OTC drugs at any time. However, young people have been shown to be much more likely to abuse them than adults.
This is because OTC drugs are very easy for teenagers and young adults to get.
Even in states where an ID is required, most only require you to be 18 years old. They are relatively available in many stores, and they are also inexpensive.
For teenagers, some types of OTC medications seem like an easy way for them to get a quick high. Still, there are some adults who will abuse them as well.
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What is OTC Medicine Abuse?
OTC drug abuse occurs when someone misuses an over the counter drug. This can be any form of using the drug that contradicts its label. OTC medicine abuse doesn't always have to be done recreationally. Some people may be abusing these drugs without their knowledge.
For example, OTC medication abuse might occur when an individual:
- Needs additional relief from symptoms, and increases the dosage of the OTC drug.
- Takes an over the counter drug for longer than he or she should.
- Takes the medication in combination with alcohol, or another drug.
- Takes doses of the OTC medication too close to each other.
- Uses the OTC drug to create another, illegal drug.
- Crushes pills to be snorted or mixed with liquid and injected.
When someone is abusing OTC medicines it doesn't mean that person is addicted. There is no compulsion to use the drug at all. However, ongoing OTC drug abuse can eventually lead to addiction.
Symptoms of Over the Counter Medicine Abuse
Every over the counter drug may have different symptoms of abuse. However, in general, you can tell if you are abusing OTC drugs by looking for a few common signs.
The symptoms of OTC medication abuse might include:
- Becoming withdrawn from friends and family
- Having problems with short-term memory
- Experiencing changes in your personality or mood
- Speaking with slurred speech
- Becoming less productive at school or at work
- Changes in your appetite
- Possible weight loss or weight gain
If you have noticed any of these symptoms, OTC drug abuse may be the reason. It is important to stop abusing over the counter medications if you are. Continuing to abuse them is very likely to lead to an addiction.
What is OTC Drug Addiction?
An over the counter medicine addiction can occur when someone has been abusing these drugs. Typically, abuse needs to have occurred for a longer period of time. Even so, there's no way to tell how long it may take someone to form an addiction to them.
When you are addicted to OTC drugs, you feel as though you need them. You may crave them frequently. You may even not be able to function properly without them.
An OTC drug addiction is a very serious condition. Even though these drugs are available to almost everyone, they still can be very dangerous.
There are some symptoms of over the counter medication addiction that you can look for. These symptoms include:
- Building up a tolerance to the drug, which means you need more of it over time.
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you stop using OTC medications.
- Continuing to use OTC drugs even though they are causing medical problems.
- Spending a lot of money on OTC medicines every month.
- Finding that OTC drug use is negatively impacting personal relationships, work and school.
It's possible that you have been using OTC drugs for quite some time. You may know that you have been abusing them. However, you're not sure if you've developed an actual addiction to them.
It's important for you to be able to identify an addiction. It isn't always easy to see an OTC drug addiction within yourself. However, when you know what to look for, it can become easier.
You may be addicted to OTC drugs if you fit any of the criteria listed above. Also, you may notice some physical or mental signs of OTC medication addiction. These signs might include:
- Symptoms of depression or anxiety
- Feeling withdrawn and avoiding social situations
- Having cravings for OTC drugs
- Insomnia, or other problems with sleep, such as restless legs, or nightmares
- Poor personal hygiene habits and grooming
Perhaps you still need more information to determine if you're addicted to OTC drugs. Taking an addiction quiz can help you tremendously. It will also give you direction regarding what you need to do to get help, if needed.
The Dangers of Abusing OTC Drugs
OTC medications are dangerous when they're abused. This is true for anyone, but it might be especially true for young adults and teens. Their bodies are still growing and developing, which puts them at a much higher risk.
It is so important to know the dangers of over the counter drug abuse or addiction. Of course, the risks are different, depending on what type of drug you're using. However, you should be aware of the risk of:
- Loss of coordination
- Bouts of dizziness
- Hot flashes
- Possible hallucinations
- Possible hair loss
- Menstrual cycle problems
- Blurry vision
- Anxiety and depression
- Urinary tract infections
Some types of OTC medications can have even worse effects if they are taken long-term. These can include:
- Negatively impacting your heart
- The risk of kidney problems
- The risk of liver problems
- High blood pressure
- The risk of a stroke
As you can see, OTC medications are not to be taken lightly. They may be easy to obtain, but they're dangerous to abuse. It is even possible to die from taking too much, or from taking them for too long.
Advice for Parents on Teens Who Abuse OTC Items
For parents, it can be so devastating to learn that their teens are abusing OTC items and drugs. Many times, the news that this is happening under their roofs is shocking to them. They need to be aware of how to spot OTC drug abuse when it begins. Unfortunately, many parents aren't sure what they should be looking for.
If you are a parent, you may be concerned about your teen. Maybe you've noticed some of the signs of OTC drug abuse, but you're still not sure.
Here are some other signs you can look for. If your teen is abusing OTC medications, he or she may:
- Steal your family OTC medicines from your medicine cabinet
- Spend a lot of money on over the counter drugs
- Accuse you of invading their privacy
- Try to cover up medicine-like smells coming from their room
- Show signs of being drugged, such as being sluggish or hyperactive
If you have noticed any of these signs, your teen may be abusing OTC drugs. There are some things you can do if this is the case in your home.
Begin by having a conversation with your teen. He or she may be waiting for you to bring it up so that help can be obtained. If your teen is avoidant, it may be time to contact your family doctor to discuss the problem. Eventually, you may want to consider professional OTC drug treatment for recovery.
OTC Drug Treatment is Something You Should Consider
If OTC medicine abuse or addiction is a problem for you, treatment is available. OTC drug treatment will address the issues behind the drug use, no matter what they may be.
Depending on the type of drug being used, a period of drug detox may be recommended. This will help with withdrawal symptoms and ensure that a safe recovery is experienced.
Drug rehab is the next step. It may seem strange to go to drug rehab for an over the counter drug addiction. However, these drugs are powerful, and the addiction needs to be treated appropriately. It's important to get to the root cause of behind it. That way, the long-term outcome is more likely to be a positive one.
Are you struggling with OTC drug abuse or addiction? You can get the help you need to recover. Simply contact us.
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- FDA.gov. (13, July 2017). What are over-the-counter (OTC) drugs and how are they approved?. Retrieved from: https://www.fda.gov/AboutFDA/Transparency/Basics/ucm194951.htm
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