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Over The Counter Addiction


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Over The Counter Addiction Information

Sometimes even the most seemingly innocent substances can lead to addiction. Many people are surprised to learn that many over the counter medications, ones that you can buy in a store without a doctor’s prescription, can be extremely addicting. It’s easy for the addict think they can kick the habit on their own, but over the counter addiction is similar to any other that people keep using to fight withdrawal symptoms and get stuck in a cycle. Treatment for addiction is often the only way out.

Over The Counter Medication Addiction Topics:
  • Cough Medicine
  • Diet Pills
  • Signs of Abuse
  • Physical Impact Withdrawal
  • Treatment
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Peaks Recovery is medically staffed by a primary care physician, a psychiatrist, and around the clock nursing. The medical team acumen provides the safest medical detox in the state of Colorado. Unlike most drug and alcohol detox programs, our medical team is not contracted and is onsite throughout the day to ensure your safety and comfort.

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Peaks Recovery is licensed to provide both inpatient and residential drug and alcohol treatment services to adults of all ages. For the duration of programming patients are housed in beautiful gender separate housing providing a nurturing environment that promotes personal well being and recovery.

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Mental health issues or “Co-occurring Disorders” are commonly associated with Substance Abuse and Addiction. Peaks Recovery is a complete Dual Diagnosis Addiction Treatment Facility. Our Clinical staff Specialties cover a wide range of Mental Health disorders so recovery can encompass the individual as a whole.

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Cough Medicine

Cough medicines are found in nearly every medicine cabinet in America. Most people don’t even think of them as a risk. For those who know that high doses can cause euphoria and hallucinations however, it could lead to a dangerous addiction. Because of lack of knowledge about this, as well as easy availability, these types of drugs are popular among teens.

The cough suppressant ingredient in these medicines is dextromethorphan, known as DXM for short. It is found in pills and cough syrups under brand names like Robitussin, Nyquil, Triaminic, and Dimetap. It is swallowed and creates inebriation similar to that caused by alcohol.

Diet Pills

There are many types of diet pills readily available on the market. Some block fat or carbs, some suppress appetite, some increase metabolism, and some increase thermogenesis.

People begin taking diet pills for a number of reasons: to drop pounds quickly for a special event, to offset a poor diet, in conjunction with an eating disorder, or to stay awake. Most of them contain stimulants that cause increased energy, and between the weight loss and the alertness, they can easily become very addicting. Many people if I feel this good and am losing with weight with one pill, why not take two? And so on and so on.

Diet pills are not regulated by the FDA the way prescription drugs are, so there are many ingredients in them that can be dangerous. These ingredients can cause a range of side effects including memory problems, mood swings, issues in the intestines and esophagus, and allergic reactions.

Signs of Abuse

To get high on DXM, users may take as much as 25 to 50 times the recommended dose. At first the symptoms can mirror drinking alcohol, with mild drunkenness and slurred speech. At the highest levels of use, vision and consciousness can be affected.

Someone who is heavily using DXM may acted confused or disoriented and may also experience nausea and vomiting. Additional things you notice might include:

  • Missing and/or empty pill bottles
  • Changes in appearance or habits
  • Isolation from the family
  • Evasiveness or secretive behavior
  • Many hours spent away from home without explanation
  • Changes in appetite
  • Hostility and anger
  • Unexplained mood changes
  • Inability to focus
  • Poor coordination

Diet pill addiction may be difficult to pinpoint, as many of the warning signs mimic other types of drug use, like secrecy, isolation and moodiness. Other symptoms could include:

  • Chest pain
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Nausea
  • Stomach pain
  • Severe headaches
  • Hallucinations and blackouts

Physical Impact

Abusing DXM can cause impaired motor function, numbness, nausea or vomiting, and increased heart rate and blood pressure. When taken in more excessive doses, DXM can cause extreme agitation, increased body temperature and a buildup of excess acid in body fluids.

Many of the drugs that contain DXM also contain acetaminophen, a pain reliever that can cause liver damage when taken in high doses. Some of these medicines also contain decongestants, and though rare, the combination can cause hypoxic brain damage, the result of severe respiratory depression and a lack of oxygen to the brain.

Among the many possible side effects of diet pills are hair loss, insomnia, menstrual cycle disturbances, urinary tract infections, diarrhea, vomiting, blurred vision and anxiety.

Excessive use of diet pills also stresses the central nervous system and increase heart rate. This can eventually lead to heart attack or stroke, especially if the user has high blood pressure or a pre-existing heart condition.


Luckily, DXM ranks in the moderate category in terms of physical dependence. Most users that display symptoms of withdrawal will experience some form of anxiety, restlessness, insomnia, diarrhea, vomiting, severe weight loss, and upset stomach. These symptoms usually clear up within a couple days, but addiction treatment is still the best bet to avoid falling back into the addiction. Though the physical addiction may be moderate, the emotional and mental components of the addiction will still need to be addressed.

Withdrawal from diet pills can include symptoms like fatigue, depression, muscle pain, fuzzy thoughts, and irritability within 6-36 hours of stopping taking them.

As with any withdrawal, the body has gotten used to the cough medicine or diet pills, and it may be a difficult adjustment. It’s impossible to predict how any one body will react, so it’s always best to detox with the help of an addiction treatment center.


With over the counter medications, it’s easy to tell yourself there’s not a problem because they’re considered “safe” and legal. But if you can’t go a day or even an hour without thinking about taking them, we can help you with addiction treatment.

If there are deeper issues that led to this addiction, we can help you figure that out too.

Contact us today to learn about your new beginning at our beautiful Colorado campus.