Not all drugs are difficult to obtain. Over-the-counter medications, or OTC drugs, can be found at local pharmacies and supermarkets. They're easy for teens to obtain and easy for teens to abuse.
According to Abovetheinfluence.com, The most commonly abused OTC drugs include those that contain the ingredient dextromethorphan, or DXM. This is often found in drugs to treat cold, cough and flu. Teens may believe that because cough medicine is available over-the-counter, it’s safe. But a large dose can cause serious effects like hallucination, vision problems and loss of coordination. Teens have been killed while impaired with high doses of DXM.
When combined with alcohol and other drugs, OTC drugs become even more dangerous. Side effects are enhanced, and can often lead to hospitalization for breathing problems, severe vomiting and heart problems.
When taken in large doses, DXM can cause death or brain damage. According to DrugAbuse.gov, hypoxic brain damage has occurred due to the combination of DXM with decongestants often found in the medication. Talk to your teen about the potential of never recovering from severe brain damage due to abusing simple cough syrups.
Long Term Health Concerns
Even OTC drugs can cause dependence. Addiction leads to further unhealthy behaviors and impaired judgment. Kids with addictions to OTC medications may suffer long term health problems and may be more at risk for injury or death from accident or overdose.
Unhealthy Weight Loss
Diet pills, diuretics and laxatives can quickly become habit-forming, especially in teens with body image issues. The feeling that weight can be lost easily with the help of a simple pill can quickly enticing. This type of weight loss isn’t healthy, and in many teens with eating disorders, weight loss isn’t healthy or necessary. If you suspect your child has a problem with using OTC drugs to diet, intervene with the assistance of your child’s doctor.
Problems at Work and in School
Teens who abuse OTC drugs may begin to have problems in school, at work and with friends. Because the high associated with these drugs can cause severe impairment, it’s especially dangerous for kids who get behind the wheel or operate machinery of any kind.