Over the Counter Drug Abuse:
The ingredient that makes cough and cold medications potentially dangerous and addictive when abused is a substance called dextromethorphan (or DXM). You tend to find it in most cough suppressants whether in capsule or liquid form. When taken as prescribed, there is naturally usually no problem at all but when abused and taken in large doses, it can have extremely dangerous and harmful consequences, like:
- Impaired judgement
- Hot flushes
- Brain damage
The reason for the popularity of DXM containing products like cough medicine - is that at doses higher than medically recommended, dextromethorphan is classified as a hallucinogenic drug, with visible effects that are similar to ketamine. So basically an easy and cheap way to get high!
Teenagers are also tending to increasingly take cough and cold tablets rather than the liquid form because the tablets contain higher doses of DXM, and so rather than take a whole bottle of terrible tasting cough syrup, a few pills will do the trick.
This Interesting Wikipedia Article gives you all the medical ins and outs so it's worth a read.
Over the counter drug abuse is not only confined to cough and cold medications. Diet pills, sleep aids and motion sickness tablets are other forms of over the counter drugs that can be used for recreational purposes if taken in large doses and thereby have damaging and dangerous consequences.
So what can you do?
Become aware of what your child is doing and using. Look out for them keeping over the counter drugs in their room or school bags. Notice if any over the counter medicines you keep at home seems to be disappearing quickly (and stop stocking them if you do!). Educate your child about the dangers of over the counter drug abuse. Look out for the signs of teenage drug addiction and make sure you take action and help your child get drug and teen alcoholism treatment if necessary. Dont wait before its too late.
Also being aware of and understanding the growing problem of prescription drug abuse and addiction
will help you deal with this massively underrated problem.
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