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Abuse of Prescription Drugs: Adult Cough Medicine


The abuse of prescription drugs has become a widespread health concern in the past years. A prescription medication is any drug controlled by law to require a prescription before it can be administered or obtained. Some individuals can become addicted even to cough syrup. Several prescription cough and cold medicines contain mind-altering ingredients which generally have more dosages than the ones recommended. They can also contain dangerous drugs such as antihistamines and expectorants. These can pose a risk when taken in higher doses.

The abuse of prescription drugs such as the common cold and cough medicines can lead to tolerance and addiction. Adults that become addicted to these medicines generally do so by accident or because of the high levels of alcohol in them. The abuse of prescription drugs usually starts with the doctor prescribing a cough syrup which generally has codeine, a very powerful drug. Other people may just visit the local pharmacy or convenience store to remedy a cold. Some individuals may not be aware of the ingredients contained in these medications and tend not to measure out doses.

Two of the most commonly abused cold medicines are:

  • Dextromethorphan(DXM), this is a cough suppressant and expectorant found in numerous OTC cold medicines which may cause symptoms of euphoria and hallucinations when administered in larger doses than the ones recommended.
  • Promethazine-codeine cough syrup, this medicine contains codeine, an opioid that acts as a cough suppressant. Other symptoms produced by this medication are euphoria and relaxation. This happens when the medication is consumed at a higher-than-prescribed dose. Another chemical it contains is promethazine HCl. This is an antihistamine which acts as a sedative. Promethazine-codeine can be very addictive.

At low doses, cough medications may produce mild euphoric effects and sleepiness. Nevertheless, at high doses the effects can become riskier. These drugs when used recreationally can produce similar effects to those of PCP. When these drugs are ingested, they can damage the liver. The side effects of these prescribed drugs can also depress systems in the body such as blood circulation and respiration.

If you are struggling with an addiction to these or any other prescribed drugs, call 864-607-9031.

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