Over-the-Counter Medication: 5 Ways They’re Being Abused

DXM, dextromethorphan is a dissociative ingredient found in over-the-counter cough medications like Robitussin. Young people especially have developed a trend in abusing these medications to get high. While many drugstore medications are being abused to achieve intoxication, they can also be abused in different ways. Misuse of medication can result in some of the same processes associated with addiction, like tolerance and dependence. Though misusing over-the-counter will not always result in addiction, it can create harmful effects in the brain and the body. Letting go of an attachment to repurposing drugs for personal benefit can save health, happiness, and serenity.


When someone says, “take a Benadryl” many’s first response is “it makes me sleepy.” Antihistamines create sleepiness due to an ingredient called diphenhydramine. People suffering allergic reactions often need to sleep in order let the reaction settle down. Likewise, people with extreme colds and congestion keeping them awake at night need a full night’s rest in order to heal. Allergies and head colds are meant to be occasional instances. Medications like these are designated as non-habit forming, but they are not meant to be used for repeated, extended amounts of time.


Pseudoephedrine is an ingredient found in nasal decongestants can perk up one’s alertness and feelings of being focused. Stimulants can be found in other behind the counter medications like pain relief containing percentages of caffeine. Abusing caffeine in any form can have a negative effect on the heart; heart attack, irregularity of heartbeat, and heart palpitations can result from using these drugs the wrong way. Governmental institutions have been investigating the potential harm of caffeine for sometime. Caffeine has not yet been declared as addictive, but the adverse impact caffeine can have on the heart raises concern.


Tylenol is the brand name for a chemical called acetaminophen. Narcotic prescription painkillers are commonly a blend of opioid and acetaminophen. Abuse of prescription drugs is warned against for many reasons, one of which includes the effect of Tylenol on the liver. Taking drugstore level painkillers in higher volume does not actually achieve a greater effect. In fact, it tends to do more harm than good. Tylenol is known for causing damage to the liver. Tylenol and other pain relievers are not seen to be addiction forming, but when taking in high doses regularly, they can build a tolerance, requiring more of the drug.

Refuge Recovery offers detox, intensive outpatient, partial hospitalization, and sober living services. If you or a loved one are concerned about over the counter medication addiction and abuse, call Refuge Recovery at (323) 207-0276

Recommended Posts