Prescription Drug Abuse and Addiction

cough medicine

Cough Medicines

When talking about prescription drug addiction, the word “prescription” is in some cases a misnomer. There is one over-the-counter medication that doesn’t require a prescription that is still frequently abused, creates a hallucinogenic high and is just as addictive as a drug you must get prescribed by a doctor: dextromethorphan.

If you’ve never heard of it, you’ve surely heard of the mixtures containing it. Robitussin, NyQuil, Dimetapp, Vicks, Coricidin, Delsym, and generics. Abusing these medications is even referred to as “Robotripping.”

Taken in small doses, it may help suppress a cough. Taken in large dosages, it creates “dissociative” effects. A dissociative drug creates feelings of not being oneself or of being separate or detached from the environment. It also distorts perceptions and emotions. Abusing DXM can include bringing about impaired motor function, nausea, vomiting, and numbness. One’s heart rate will often go abnormally high, along with the blood pressure. An overdose of dextromethorphan can and does kill.

But cough suppressants are not controlled substances. So any teenager bent on experimenting with an easily-obtained, uncontrolled drug has access to mixtures with dextromethorphan. There may even be some in the medicine cabinet from the last time one of the kids in the household was sick with a cold. It only takes a single bottle or about eight pills of a cough medication of this type to get high.

Abuse More Widespread Among the Young

In the last Monitoring the Future survey of high school students, 6% of tenth graders and 6% of 12th graders had abused a cold medication, which means they used more than directed or for non-medical purposes. That means more than 200,000 high school sophomores, another 200,000 seniors plus students from all the other grades not included in this survey.

Abusing cough syrup has been popularized by a long list of rap musicians, including Eminem, Lil’ Wyte, Big Moe, Paul Wall, Kanye West, Rick Ross, Lil’ Wayne, Ludacris and many others. Music videos of these stars have featured the musicians with cups in their hands, rapping about abusing various narcotic and synthetic narcotic cough medications.

Young people intent on trying this drug can easily find an online vendor who will sell them a concentrated powder form of this drug, making overdose a definite possibility.

Ironically, a 2004 study at the Pennsylvania State College of Medicine reported that dextromethorphan was no more effective than a placebo in improving children’s nighttime coughs. So why is an abusable and addictive mixture even on the market?

Muscle Relaxants Constitute an Additional Class of Abused Drugs

prescription muscle relaxer such as Soma

When a person injures their back or muscles in another part of the body, they may receive a prescription for Soma (generic name carisoprodol). This is a muscle relaxant but it is also widely abused.

Chemically, it’s similar to Miltown, the first sedative to find broad acceptance in the U.S. When abused, it creates sedating effects, it is known to be highly addictive and can be fatal in overdose. Some people use Soma to enhance the intoxicating effects of alcohol or other drugs.

While it’s prescribed for muscle spasms, Soma doesn’t actually relax the muscles. It is thought to simply create an overall sedated effect and change the way pain is perceived. But when it’s used to get high, the effects can be quite uncomfortable as side effects include depression, agitation, dizziness, nausea and vomiting and tremors, among other symptoms.

A person trying to withdraw from Soma will go through severe symptoms similar to those seen in withdrawal from illicit drugs, including abdominal cramps, headaches, insomnia, chills, and nausea.

A Sober Life is Worth the Work

Ask any addict in a relatively sober moment if he really wants to be an addict. The honest ones will tell you that they wish they could leave it all behind. Those who live in terror of the cravings they know will set in if they try to quit may tell you otherwise. No one plans on becoming an addict. It happens - because someone thinks they can party a few times and then they get hooked. Or because a dealer gave them a “free sample” and the rush they felt was just too good to ignore. Or the high helped them forget they ever had any stresses or problems.

For most, addiction is a slide into desperation, criminality, a rejection of all the moral values they may have been taught growing up. Prescription drugs can cause just as much devastation as any drug on the street.

But there is a way out. The Narconon drug and alcohol rehabilitation program provides a path out of the destruction caused by addictive drugs, and back into a productive, enjoyable life.

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