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Over the Counter Drugs of Abuse

How People Become Addicted to OTC Drugs

It’s well-known that the opioid epidemic has been going on for a long time and causing thousands of deaths. According to a recent study from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the number of overdose deaths from both heroin and prescription opioids has been on the rise for years. Although the opioid epidemic is a massive crisis plaguing the state, an important fact to note is that people aren’t just buying them off the streets, but are also commonly abusing over-the-counter drugs that are completely legal. Not only are these drugs gateways to harder drugs like heroin, but they can also be extremely dangerous.

Most Commonly Abused Over-the-Counter Drugs

The abuse of over-the-counter (OTC) drugs isn’t new, and it’s something that people have done for years. As long as there have been people dealing with mental and emotional pain, people have been looking for substances that can help provide them an escape. It’s important to realize that someone who is struggling with mental distress will sometimes go to great lengths to escape how they feel. This may involve abusing drugs that you can buy at any pharmacy without a prescription.

Some of the most common OTC medications that people abuse include the following:

  • Dextromethorphan (DXM)

  • Loperamide

  • Pseudoephedrine/phenylephrine

  • Diphenhydramine (DPH)

  • Oxybutynin transdermal system

All of these medications are safe enough to be sold over the counter, and although they’re not as addictive as medications like opioid or benzodiazepines, a person can abuse them. DXM is by far the most popular OTC medication that people abuse, and it can be found in many cold and flu medications. It’s important to realize that a person doesn’t necessarily develop an addiction because the substance is addictive but because the way they train their brain to need the substance. If a person abuses any substance whenever they experience a specific trigger, they’ll begin craving it and will become psychologically or physically dependent, and in some cases, both.

Young People and OTC Drugs

When it comes to the abuse of OTC drugs, it’s most common for young people to abuse the drugs. Teenagers are dealing with a lot in their lives from school to navigating relationships and trying to figure out who they are. Many times, they’ll turn to substances as a way to cope with the stresses of life, and they’re much more susceptible to becoming dependent on their substance of abuse. Teens aren’t yet old enough to buy alcohol, so many of them will buy medications from local pharmacies. While some stores keep an eye out for young people purchasing these medications, many teens simply abuse the medications that are already in the house.

Getting Help for OTC Drug Addiction

If you or someone you love is struggling with the abuse of OTC drugs, allow Enlightened Solutions Detox to help. Although these medications don’t have the same withdrawal symptoms as other substances like opioids, meth, or cocaine, the person will still experience some symptoms. Our goal is to provide detox services in New Jersey to help people come off of these substances safely as they learn a new way to live. Call Enlightened Solutions detox today at 833-233-7336 to learn more about how we can help.

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