Each year, thousands if not millions of US citizens ingest cough and cold medications to assist them in dealing with symptoms resulting from a cold. So, can you get addicted to cough medicine? If taken as prescribed by a qualified medical practitioner, these medications can be safe, useful, and effective. However, cough medicines can be harmful to your health if you misuse them.
This happens if you ingest additional medicines than what your doctor prescribed or use the drugs when there are no cold symptoms. When you consider drugs that are addictive, most likely what you think of are the street drugs, such as bhang or cocaine. However, the most frequently misused drugs in the US may be present in your home, popularly referred to as cough medicine.
Previously, cough medicine misuse primarily involved prescription cough medicines grouped in the same category as heroin. However, today it involves over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicines that contain dextromethorphan (DXM). When taken in large doses, dextromethorphan may lead to hallucinations. This has rendered it a popular abusive drug among teenagers searching for an affordable way to get “high”.
Cough Medicines with Codeine
Codeine and heroin are similar in that they are derived from opium and are commonly known as opiates. Often, codeine causes euphoria, psychological and physical addiction. The moment you become an addict to codeine, you’ll develop withdrawal symptoms like those exhibited by heroin users when they try to stop.
Cough Medicines with Hydrocodone
Another common and powerful opiate utilized in prescription cough medicines is hydrocodone. It is the most commonly abused and prescribed opiate drug in the US. If you become a hydrocodone addict, your body will become tolerant to the drug speedily, and you’ll need more of it to get “high”.
Cough Medicines with Dextromethorphan
Dextromethorphan (DXM) is not categorized as a narcotic and is easily available over the counter. DXM isn’t physically addictive like most opiates; however, it can be dangerous if you abuse it. When taken as prescribed by a doctor, Dextromethorphan is a safe and effective cough suppressant. However, if ingested at 25 to 50 times the recommended dosage, DXM may lead to hallucinations and alter your state of consciousness. Prolonged misuse of Dextromethorphan may cause psychosis that can lead you to get hospitalized.
Cough Medicine Addiction and Misuse Elaborated
Typically, there are two major ways through which cough medicine comprising dextromethorphan, hydrocodone, and codeine can cause addiction: by consuming cough medicine for prolonged periods and in excessive dosages than prescribed and for recreational purposes. Generally, opioids, including codeine, dextromethorphan, and hydrocodone, are habit-forming.
Therefore, prolonged usage of the same can lead to addiction and dependence. Practically speaking, addiction is a disorder of your brain’s reward system where when you engage in certain behavior, you’ll be pressured to replicate that behavior. Often, this happens despite you having full knowledge of the negative impacts the misuse of cough medicine has on your health. On the other hand, dependence is mainly a physiological occurrence where your system uses specific amounts of cough medicine. At this point, you’ll have become an addict, and your body will require that amount to operate normally.
In this case of codeine, dextromethorphan, and hydrocodone, your brain and central nervous system will require the presence of these opioids to operate normally. Lack of these will stimulate unusual functioning exhibited in the form of possibly distressing and unsafe withdrawal signs.
How to Avoid the Misuse and Addiction of Cough Medicine
Whenever you get a cough medicine prescription from your healthcare provider, ensure you ingest it as recommended. Also, whenever you purchase an over-the-counter cough medicine, make sure you take it as directed on the label. Furthermore, check with your pediatrician before administering cough medicine to your child. The following are tips to help you and your minor stay safe when using cough medicines:
- Look out for warning indications of misuse of cough medicines, including empty cough medicine packages, behavioral changes, and sudden need for money.
- Ensure you keep an eye on all cough medicines available at home and how they are used, and avoid stocking too much.
- Always take all medications, even cough medicines, responsibly to set a good example to your kids.
- Educate your children about the possible hazards of misusing cough medicines. Often, most children and grown-ups alike presume that it is safe since they are taking cough medicine.
If you are addicted to cough medicine and you’re ready to get started on the recovery journey, call us today at 833-610-1174.