When it comes to “addiction”, people often think about street drugs like marijuana, or even alcohol and smoking.
But did you know that even OTC and drugs prescribed by doctors can cause addiction if used in an abusive and wrong way?
Here’s a guide to some of the most frequently misused medications that you can use to keep you and your family safe.
What over-the-counter medications can be addictive?
Drug # 1: Benzodiazepines
Benzodiazepines are a family of medicines that are often used to treat sleep problems, anxiety, and panic attacks. And they may also be used to treat a variety of other diseases.
Examples of benzodiazepines are:
- Alprazolam (Xanax)
- Clonazepam (Klonopin)
- Diazepam (Valium)
- Chlordiazepoxide (Librium)
- Lorazepam (Ativan)
Overuse of these medications may result in physical tolerance and addiction.
Benzodiazepines are relaxing and give you a “high”, and so they can be extremely addictive.
And because of the natural process of tolerance development, a person abusing the drug will need a larger dose to get the same high. This can lead to dependence.
And when you stop or substantially reduce your usage, withdrawal symptoms will appear.
Withdrawal from benzodiazepines may be very hazardous, even fatal.
Find a drug detox center if you believe you are becoming overdependent on these medicines.
Drug # 2: Barbiturates
Barbiturates are depressants of the central nervous system (CNS). They are often used to treat sleep problems, seizures, and headaches.
And they may also be used to treat a variety of other diseases and treatment procedures. For example, they may also be used for pre-operative sedation in hospitals.
Examples of barbiturates are:
- Seconal (Secobarbital)
- Seconal Sodium (Secobarbital)
- Butisol Sodium (Butabarbital)
- Medaral (Mephobarbital)
- Nembutal Sodium (Pentobarbital)
Barbiturates can be very hazardous since it’s impossible to know how much to take. In some cases, a slight overdose may result in unconsciousness or death.
Barbiturates are also addictive as they can give you a “high” that is pleasant and relaxing. But like other drugs, if you get addicted and stop, it may result in a deadly withdrawal episode.
This is why when you are addicted to barbiturates and want to detox from the drug, you need to do your cessation in a suitable facility.
Drug # 3: Sleep Medicines
Sleep problems are dangerous because they can be easily accessible to anyone.
Used the right way, these medicines can help sleep problems like insomnia or sleeplessness due to severe anxiety.
Examples of these medications are:
- Zolpidem (Ambien)
- Eszopiclone (Lunesta)
- Zaleplon (Sonata)
Sleeping medications are usually given for seven to ten days. But when taken for more than that, a patient can be in danger of addiction.
When you become addicted to sleeping medication, you are prone to severe memory problems and increased depression.
Also, cessation from these drugs requires therapy in a proper detox facility.
Drug # 4: Codeine and Morphine
Painkillers, especially opioids, are among the most frequently misused prescription medications. These medications are often prescribed as pain relievers because they include substances that relax the body.
The most common of these painkillers are morphine and codeine.
Brands of these medications include:
- MS Contin
These medications help lessen pain, but they may also produce a euphoric high, making them addictive. This makes them dangerous because they pose severe adverse effects if used in excessive amounts.
And opioid addiction presents an entire complex process when it comes to cessation and withdrawal.
Drug # 5: Oxycodones
Oxycodone is another opioid pain reliever. It may be used to relieve pain ranging from mild to severe.
Examples of oxycodones are:
People who abuse oxycodone crush it, snort it, or inject it, significantly increasing the danger of overdosing. There is a severe risk of addiction and dependency on these medicines.
When used in large doses or in combination with other substances, particularly alcohol, they may induce respiratory distress or, worse, death.
Drug # 6: Opioid Hydrocodone + Acetaminophen
This drug is used to treat pain that ranges from mild to severe. It includes both an opioid (hydrocodone) and a non-opioid pain medication (acetaminophen).
Trade names for this medication include:
These opioids may make you drowsy and make you feel constipated. And high dosages may result in life-threatening respiratory difficulties.
When you become reliant on these substances, you will experience uncomfortable withdrawal when you quit or reduce doses.
The typical withdrawal symptoms for these are flu-like symptoms and can be dangerous if you had been taking the drugs for a long time.
Drug # 7: Amphetamines
Amphetamines are known by the nicknames “bennies,” “black beauties,” and “speed.”
Stimulants like amphetamines, when prescribed, may help people with ADHD. However, some individuals take amphetamines to get high, increase their energy and alertness, or lose weight.
Examples of amphetamines are:
- Adderall XR
These stimulants have the potential to become addictive. And they may induce a hazardous increase in body temperature, irregular pulse, and even cardiac arrest when taken in excess amounts.
Drug # 8: Methylphenidate
Adults and children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are given methylphenidate as a therapy regimen.
Examples of methylphenidate are:
Combining stimulants and common decongestants may result in dangerously high blood pressure or irregular pulse.
Aggression, disorientation, fast breathing, and fear are all symptoms of methylphenidate overdose. Excessive quantities may result in a heart attack, a stroke, a seizure, a coma, or even death.
These dangers may be reduced with treatment, such as getting professional assistance for addiction detox.
Drug # 9: Dextromethorphan (DXM)
Prescription medications aren’t the only source of harm. Dextromethorphan is a cough suppressant that is often included in over-the-counter cold and cough medications.
Common brands containing dextromethorphan include:
Large doses of this drug may make you feel euphoric and induce hallucinations. And this is why people tend to abuse this substance.
But it can surely cause uncomfortable or painful side effects like nausea, rapid heart rate, and in rare cases, brain damage.
Because cough syrup is readily available and quickly accessible over the counter, even teenagers are in danger of addiction to this drug.
Drug # 10: Pseudoephedrine
Many non-prescription cold remedies include this decongestant. While it may relieve stuffy nose, pseudoephedrine is also used to make illegal methamphetamine or “meth”.
Brand names under pseudoephedrine include:
To prevent people from making meth with this substance, the government regulates its selling. That is why certain cold medications are kept behind the counter, and you may be required to sign for them.
Drug # 11: Dimenhydrinate
This is an over-the-counter medication used to treat nausea and motion sickness. It is an antihistamine or anti-allergenic drug.
It is often used for hay fever, hives, conjunctivitis, and responses to insect bites or stings.
Common brands containing dimenhydrinate include:
Dimenhydrinate can produce a high feeling when taken in higher amounts than advised. The high is typically accompanied by euphoria, hallucinations, a lack of coordination, and a state of wonderment.
It has also been found to have sedative properties, making it attractive to anxious people.
Drug Abuse: What You Can Do About It
Are you concerned that someone you care about is misusing drugs?
The best course of action is to ask them directly whether they are or not. If so, give them TLC and keep a watch out for indications of dangerous behaviour that may hurt them.
And find a way to bring them to seek professional help for drug addiction treatment.
Remember that addiction to OTC or prescription drugs can be severely life-threatening. And when someone quits, withdrawal can be painful, uncomfortable, and even life-threatening.
A withdrawing patient will need complete medical watch during cessation and a proper program that will ensure no relapse and a better life after detox.