Is your medicine cabinet full of drugs that teenagers can abuse? Over the counter medications, or OTC drugs, can be just as dangerous as prescriptions medications, and they are much easier to obtain. They also tend to be less expensive which makes them more accessible to teenagers. Abuse of OTC drugs is most common in teens between 13 and 16 years of age. Teens are old enough to know what they are doing and old enough to understand the dangers of any kind of drug addiction. Teens who are rifling through the medicine cabinet for options are also likely to pair over the counter medications with alcohol or illegal drugs which makes them even more dangerous.
Take a look through your medicine cabinet for some of the most commonly abused OTC drugs of addiction that include:
Ibuprofen and acetaminophen, more commonly known as big brands Advil and Tylenol, are very common in most medicine cabinets. Large doses of either can cause symptoms like liver damage, kidney failure, and stomach bleeding. When taken in large doses over a longer period of time, they can cause a heightened risk of cardiac arrest. Teens will take a higher dose of a pain reliever trying to relieve pain faster or trying to get rid of a little bit of pain with a lot of medication.
The abuse of diet pills usually starts with a teen who simply wants to lose some weight. While this is not the greatest way for a teenager to go about losing weight, it still happens. Over the counter diet pills can be highly addictive. Over the years, the US Food and Drug Administration has banned some of the very dangerous stimulants that were once commonplace in diet pills such as ephedra and phenylpropanolamine. While these ingredients are no longer included, there are other stimulants present in most diet pills including bitter orange. Bitter orange can cause irregular heartbeats, high blood pressure, insomnia, dehydration, paranoia, nervousness, and digestive problems. Taken over a long period of time, diet pills can cause stroke, heart failure, and death.
Motion Sickness Pills
Taken in large doses, motion sickness medications can cause hallucinations and highs similar to illegal drugs purchased on the street. Dramamine is a common motion sickness medication that can be used in this way. The dose that would need to be taken in order to achieve a high varies because of difference in body weight and how the body will process the medication. Extremely high doses of motion sickness pills like Dramamine can cause irregular heartbeats, liver damage, kidney damage, memory loss, abdominal pain, coma, heart attack, and death.
Many states have taken this effective and popular nasal decongestant off their over the counter shelves because of its use in the making of methamphetamine. Pseudoephedrine does not have quite the abuse record that some other over the counter medications have because of the federal regulations that require is to be kept behind the pharmacy counter, purchased in limited quantities, and purchased only if the purchaser has valid ID. However, if these requirements are met, pseudoephedrine can be purchased over the counter in most places. Because of its stimulant properties, it has been used for reasons other than nasal decongestion such as weight loss and hyperawareness. However, it causes irregular heartbeats, palpitations, and heart attacks. When taken over a longer period of time, it can cause episodes of paranoid psychosis.
Dextromethorphan is the active ingredient in most over the counter cough and cold medications such as NyQuil and Robitussin. Because of the alcohol content in many of the liquid versions of these medications, many teens have abused them. Also, dextromethorphan taken in higher than recommended doses gives the user hallucinations and euphoria. Since this active ingredient is usually combined within the medication with other active ingredients, these cough and cold medications are some of the most dangerous on the market. Some of the most dangerous side effects include shallow breathing, blurred vision, vomiting, seizures, muscle weakness, increased heat rate, and impaired decision making. They can cause bone marrow damage, nerve cell damage, high blood pressure, heart damage, brain damage, and death.
One of the biggest difficulties with preventing over the counter medication abuse is getting teens to understand that there are consequences to their actions. Talk to your teenager about abusing OTC drugs and he or she will be half as likely to indulge.