Eight OTC Medications at Risk of Adolescent Abuse

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Today parents of teens have more to be concerned about than marijuana and binge drinking. In fact, the unassuming medicine cabinet could pose more danger to a young adult than the streets. Adolescents and adults alike often have misconceptions about the safety of prescription and over the counter (OTC) medications, and according to data from the National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teens (NIDA), youth aged 13 to 16 are at highest risk of over the counter (OTC) drug abuse.

OTC and prescription drugs give the false allusion that they are safe because they are obtained legally. But the truth of the matter is that, when misused, they can be just as dangerous and deadly as any substance purchased from a drug dealer. Some of even the most unsuspecting medicines can produce toxic and enduring side effects when not used as directed. Here are some of the top household medicines likely to be abused:

  1. Pain Medications
    These are commonly taken by individuals of all ages in large dosages, not necessarily to receive a high, but in order to experience quick pain relief. However, a quick look at the side of the bottle will show that exceeding the maximum dose can lead to kidney and heart damage.
  2. Pseudoephedrine
    Sold on the market as a stimulant or sinus decongestant, Pseudoephedrine is a popular ingredient in meth. This is why the FDA has required that it now remain under lock and key and only be made available to those who can produce positive identification.
  3. Cough Syrups and Derivatives
    Beware of best sellers, Nyquil and Robitussin which contain dextromethorphan. Taking too much can lead to seizures, deliria, blurred vision, and elevated heart rate.
  4. Laxative and Diuretic Pills
    Laxatives and pills that reduce water weight from the body can result in poor nutrient absorption and also lead to dehydration. Additionally, such medications may impact muscle functioning and blood acidity levels. Because of body image issues, women and young girls are more susceptible to abuse.
  5. Motion Sickness Tablets
    Pills used to treat nausea and dizziness caused by motion initiated from car, air and other forms of travel can be fatal when taken in high dosages. Pills containing Dramamine and Benadryl are particularly dangerous; adolescents who use these medications to get high often do so without comprehending the risk of heart attack, coma, or worse – death.
  6. Weight Loss Remedies
    While many females use diet pills to achieve their ideal figure, the National Institute on Drug Abuse says that more males are becoming part of this trend. The FDA prohibits use of many of the ingredients found in weight loss medications by themselves, but they are often permissible in combination.
  7. Energy Drinks
    Teens in particular are known for consuming these potent beverages. With extra energy comes the potential cost of heightened anxiety, dehydration, and heart problems.
  8. Man-Made Drugs
    Commonly sold as bath salts, herbs, or teas, these lab creations are incredibly dangerous and deadly. Active ingredients and compounds vary widely, so they can be difficult to treat. Highs can last for weeks, not just hours or days, resulting in paranoia, hallucinations, strokes, seizures, cardiac arrest, and death.

Experts recommend that parents relay to children the dangers of OTC medications. Additionally, old or unused medication should be disposed of in a proper manner so they don’t serve as temptations.

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