The easiest way for teens to obtain over the counter (OTC) medicines is from their friends or their parents’ medicine cabinet. It’s so common that it could happen even in your house. Nearly one in four teens (23 percent) report taking an OTC drug not prescribed or recommended to them by a doctor or parent at least once in their lives. Almost half of teens (47 percent) say it is easy to get OTC drugs from a parent’s medicine cabinet. Teens are abusing everything from pain medicines to stimulants, sedatives, and tranquilizers.
What is sometimes safe but sometimes a real threat is (OTC) drug abuse and addiction. You probably have these drugs in your medicine cabinet right now. They’re medications that you do not need a prescription to buy, like headache pills, cough medicines, pain relievers, and diet pills. You can find these medications at the drug store, grocery store and even gas stations. They might seem harmless, but these drugs can cause some serious damage to your health if you don’t read the labels and abuse these drugs.
These drugs are cheap, legal and dangerous. You can do serious damage to your body if you abuse OTC drugs. For example, check out the side effects of dextromethorphan, found in cough medicine; brain damage, blackouts, insomnia, seizures, nausea, liver damage, delusions and confusion, increased heart rate, poor judgment, and even death. Just because OTC drugs are legal and easy to find doesn’t make it ok to abuse them. This is not a safer high it as just as dangerous as illegal drugs.
Some commonly abused OTC Drugs are caffeine pills, dextromethorphan and meclizine – do these names sound familiar? Probably not but are probably in your medicine cabinet right now. Dextromethorphan (DMX) is found in OTC cough medicine like Robitussin, Vick’s Formula 44 and Nyquil and seems harmless. On the street DMX is often referred to as Triple C, Skittles, Tussin, Vitamin D, and Dex.
A cup of coffee contains about 100 mg of caffeine and a single caffeine pill contains 200 mg of caffeine. So, if coffee makes you jittery imagine what a few concentrated dosed of caffeine can do. Taking caffeine pills is legal, but if you take too many you might experience nausea, delusions, chest pains, vomiting, panic attack, heart palpitations. Caffeine pills are called No-Doz or Vivarin.
Meclizine is found in OTC motion sickness pills for nausea when traveling. Taking too much of this common medication ingredient can cause hallucinations as well and damage to vital organs like brain, liver, kidney and stomach.
Taking caffeine pills is legal but if you take too many you feel, nausea, delusional, chest pains, vomiting, panic attacks, and heart palpitations. Dramamine is the hallucinogenic ingredient found in motion sickness pills. Saying “NO” to OTC substance Abuse, is sometimes hard.
Respect the power of over the counter medicine and use it properly. Recognize that all medicines, including over the counter medications, have risks along with benefits. The risks tend to increase dramatically when medicines are abused. Take responsibility for learning how to take these medicines safely and store them securely and appropriately, and seek help at the first sign of a problem for your own or a friend’s substance abuse or addiction
Be sure you can recognize the signs of OTC drug/substance abuse: Fatigue, red or glazed eyes, and repeated health complaints sudden mood changes, including irritability, negative attitude, personality changes, and general lack of interest in hobbies/activities. Secretiveness and withdrawing from family decreased or obsessive interest in school or work. Missing OTC medicines from your medicine cabinet. Some of these warning signs might signal other problems as well. If you recognize any of these signs, contact Florida Substance Abuse Treatment Center and seek advice and information.
Addiction and substance abuse are a difficult thing to deal with. Whether it is you or a loved one, substance abuse centers can help. If you notice a friend who needs help for abusing over the counter drugs—or if you feel your own misuse has spiraled out of control into an addiction or substance abuse—there are ways to get help.
The sooner you acknowledge the problem, the better the chances are of overcoming an addiction—and ultimately saving someone’s life.
Dr. Vikram Tarugu, M.D, is the CEO of Detox of South Florida, Inc and medical professional focused on addiction. A veteran in the medical field with over 25 years of professional experience. He is a consultant for many South Florida Rehab centers. Patients travel from allover the US to seek his help with addiction and Hepatitis C treatment.
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