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Less Common Medication Addictions

Drugs such as alcohol, methamphetamine, cocaine, and opiates are most commonly discussed in terms of treatment, but there are a slew of other addictions that don’t get as much attention in the media. If a drug has a potential for abuse, you can bet treatment centers across the country have treated patients for it.

Some over-the-counter (OTC) medications are not as safe as the manufacturer would like them to sound. Cough syrups containing the ingredient, Dextromethorphan (DXM) can become psychoactive when taken in higher-than-recommended doses. DXM acts as a dissociative anesthetic and can produce effects similar to PCP and Ketamine in users who abuse the drug. Commonly abused amongst teens, and known as “Robotripping,” the ingestion of Robitussin and other cough syrups is extremely dangerous and can be fatal.

Cold medicines are also commonly abused amongst teens, because along with cough syrup, they are easily accessible. Pseudoephedrine is the active ingredient in cold medicines, and can create an intense body high or hallucinations when taken in high doses. Also used to create methamphetamine, pseudoephedrine is a stimulant that can cause serious health problems including irregular heartbeat and seizures.

Diet pills are another abused medication, that can often signal an underlying eating disorder. Though several ingredients have been banned, even the most natural forms of weight-loss drugs can produce very serious health risks. For example, bitter orange can cause tremor, stroke, heart failure, and death. Other common ingredients can cause kidney and digestive problems, and side effects similar to methamphetamine addiction.

Some teens and young adults may also abuse OTC laxatives to lose weight. Diuretics found in laxatives can produce a life-threatening loss of salts and minerals in the body which regulate water, muscle function, and blood acidity. Motion sickness pills are yet another abused medication that can have life-threatening effects. Drugs such as Dramamine can create hallucinations when taken in high-doses, and can lead to irregular heartbeat, heart attack, liver and kidney damage, and death.

Even though the above mentioned medications are legal, the side-effects from abuse are truly frightening. If you or a loved one are struggling with medication addiction, we can help. It is important to receive medical attention when dealing with chemical addiction, as withdrawal should be under medical supervision. Detox is the first step, and will be the safest, most comfortable way to transition into recovery. Help is just a phone call away, don’t wait another day.


The Serenity Recovery Center stands as a landmark of the Encino Hospital Medical Center offering the best of detox. Committed to providing comfort and care, our private detox program supports the first foundational steps of sobriety. Contact us today for information: 866.294.9401