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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Effects of OTC Medicine Abuse

After I read yesterday's post about OTC medicine abuse, I realized I had not informed you of the actual ingredient that provides the effect the abusers are seeking and had only briefly alluded to the serious consequences of this abuse.

First, multiple sources state that the ingredient that produces the high OTC medicine abusers are seeking is dextromethorphan (DXM). (Run a Google search for otc medicine abuse, and you will find all kinds of information.) If you take a look in your medicine cabinet, you will quickly see that this is a common ingredient in many nonprescription medicines such as cough syrups, gel caps, and tablets.

Second, while I mentioned that "OTC medicine abuse can lead to addiction, disabilities, and/or death" and also stated that going through a drug rehab program may be an embarrassing yet necessary consequence of this drug abuse, I didn't give specific examples of the adverse effects caused by overdosing on OTC medicines.

DXM FAQ, a website aimed at combating this growing problem, lists the following short-term consequences:

Common effects can include confusion, dizziness, double or blurred vision, slurred speech, impaired physical coordination, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, rapid heart beat, drowsiness, numbness of fingers and toes, and disorientation. DXM abusers describe different "plateaus" ranging from mild distortions of color and sound to visual hallucinations and "out-of-body," feelings of detachment from the environment and self, sensations, and loss of motor control.

Long-term effects listed include central nervous suppression (which can lead to death due to your brain neglecting to inform your lungs to breathe), possible serious or even fatal interactions with other ingredients in the medication, and the possibility of entering 'a hallucinatory state which can lead to "accidents" that result in death.'

According to, "DXM abusers describe different "plateaus" ranging from mild distortions of color and sound to visual hallucinations, "out-of-body" dissociative sensations, and loss of motor control. Side effects can be worsened if the dextromethorphan-containing cough medicine being abused also contains other ingredients to treat more than just coughs."

As seemingly harmless, even helpful, as non-prescription drugs may seem, misusing and/or abusing them makes them anything but harmless. The consequences of abusing these medications could very well haunt the abuser and their family for years to come. Please educate yourself and your children regarding the dangers of abusing any medication or drug.

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