Most Popular OTC drugs found to be abused by teens


Muriwood teen write

  • Cough syrups and cold medicines. In 2005, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning to the public about the potentially harmful effects of cough and cold remedies containing dextromethorphan, or DXM. This warning followed the deaths of five teenagers who allegedly overdosed on DXM in capsule form. When taken in large doses, this cough suppressant can cause central nervous system depression, hallucinations and sensory disturbances. An overdose of DXM can lead to respiratory suppression, high or low blood pressure, seizures, fever, nausea and vomiting, sedation, dizziness, coma and death.
  • Energy pills. Over-the-counter energy pills containing caffeine and other central nervous system stimulants are usually considered harmless. But teens who take high doses of legal stimulants to stay alert, lose weight or increase their energy level may be putting their health at risk. A caffeine overdose can lead to heart problems, dehydration, anxiety attacks, insomnia and stomach distress.
  • Motion sickness drugs. Motion sickness is a common problem, and it’s not unusual to find medicines containing the chemicals dimenhydrinate or diphenydramine (the active ingredients in Dramamine and Benadryl, respectively) in American households. Teens who abuse motion sickness pills can experience mind-altering side effects, but they are also at risk of liver problems, kidney damage, heart failure, coma and death.
  • Nasal decongestants and allergy medicines. Pseudoephedrine is the active ingredient in many cold and allergy medications. But the over-the-counter drug that you buy to relieve a stuffy nose could be a stimulant with a high potential for abuse. Pseudoephedrine is an antihistamine that boosts energy and creates a euphoric buzz when taken in high doses. Because medications containing pseudoephedrine have been used illegally to make street drugs like methamphetamine, access to these products is now restricted in many states.
  • Weight loss supplements, appetite suppressants and laxatives. Whether they’re sold as tablets, capsules, powdered beverages, herbal supplements, teas or in any other form, these products have a high abuse potential for image-conscious teens. Many diet pills and laxatives contain synthetic or herbal stimulants that are supposed to boost the metabolism and facilitate fat-burning; however, these chemicals can also create a burst of energy that’s psychologically addictive. The side effects of weight-loss products range from a rapid heart rate and high blood pressure to severe dehydration, anxiety, tremors, heart failure and death.
  • Pain relievers. Pain relievers are among the most widely used over-the-counter medications, and when used appropriately, they can safely relieve discomfort. But when drugs like acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen are abused, they can cause liver failure, gastrointestinal bleeding, heart and kidney problems. A study published in Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety reveals that over 450 Americans die of acetaminophen overdoses every year, and that the number of fatalities linked to this common pain reliever has almost doubled in recent years.


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