Over The Counter Drugs Teens Abuse

It is easy for teens to abuse over the counter (OTC) drugs. They are available, and there is the perception that they are safe because they are legal. But, there are many over the counter drugs being abused by teenagers. Keep reading to find what OTC drugs teens abuse.

According to some estimates, one in 11 teens has abused over the counter drugs. This should be a reason for concern, since over the counter medications can have some very real effects. There are a number of reasons that teens abuse over the counter drugs, but no matter the reason, the practice can cause serious problems, and result in very real health issues.

Reasons that Teens Abuse Over the Counter Drugs

Over the counter medications can alter state of mind, especially when taken in large amounts, or when mixed with other medications, or taken with alcohol. It is possible to get a "buzz" from over the counter drugs, as well as find medications that provide alertness and other perceived benefits. Teenagers might abuse over the counter medications as a way to escape their every day problems, or for recreational purposes. The buzz felt can be very pleasant, and in some cases, it is possible to experience an almost hallucinatory effect with some doses of over the counter medications.

Another reason that over the counter drugs are abused is to enhance performance. Some students, intent on studying, abuse over the counter drugs containing caffeine, in the hopes that these medications will help them stay awake and alert longer so that they can learn more information. This type of performance enhancement can, in some cases, lead to an addiction -- among other problems.

Access is one of the determinants in drug abuse, and over the counter drugs are quite accessible. While teens can buy them at the store, it is also very easy to over the counter medications in the home. Your bathroom medicine cabinet probably contains some sort of over the counter medication, even if it is simply cough syrup or pain relievers. The ease of access and relatively low expense of over the counter drugs makes them attractive. As a result, teens looking for a quick buzz or small high can make use of over the counter medications.

Finally, many teenagers believe that over the counter drugs are safer than illegal drugs. Because they are legal, and because they are so accessible, there is the perception that over the counter medications are mostly harmless. Many teens do not realize that over the counter drugs can have adverse effects on the body, and this can lead to increased drug use with these types of medications.

Effects of Over the Counter Drug Abuse

In spite of the perception that over the counter medications are "safe", there are some very real effects associated with their abuse. Teenagers may not realize that these drugs can have long lasting health effects, including:

  • Depression
  • Hallucinations
  • Stroke
  • Seizure
  • Liver problems
  • Increased chance of ruptured blood vessel
  • Palpitations of the heart

These long term effects can lead to deteriorating health, and can even result in death. Prolonged use of over the counter drugs, especially in large doses, can be harmful. Another concern is that mixing some medications can lead to instant sickness -- or even death. Because teenagers rarely consider dosing and drug interactions, abusing over the counter medications can be a real problem that can lead to death.

If you are looking for signs that your child is abusing over the counter drugs, consider whether he or she has been making sudden changes. A sudden change in friends, sleeping habits and eating habits can indicate drug abuse. Additionally, increased mood swings, lack of interest in activities and the presence of paraphernalia (i.e., empty bottles in the trash) can be indications that your teenager is involved in over the counter drug abuse.

If you suspect that your teen is involved in over the counter drugs, you need to find help, and do what you can to him or her overcome the addiction.

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