Medicines prescribed for cough and cold are a major source of potential recreational drug abuse. This category of prescription drugs contains expectorants and antihistamines, which are dangerous if consumed in high quantity. Cough and cold medicines are available in the form of tablets or syrup, which can be mixed with soda to enhance flavor. Moreover, when these drugs are combined with alcohol and marijuana they have a potential addiction capability.
Easy availability of these over-the-counter drugs is generally misused, leading to prescription drug abuse. promethazine codeine The music community has been infamous for consuming promethazine-codeine cough syrup mixed with soda, called “purple drank”. Celebrities who consume these performance enhancers often influence young aspirers to adopt this habit to gain a euphoric moment during performance.
Effects of cough and cold medicines
On being struck by flu or seasonal allergies, we take 10-29 mg cough and cold medicines, as prescribed to us by health practitioners, every four hours. However, if these medicines are taken in excess, say a dose of 250-1,500 mg, our brain will work in ways quite similar to under the influence of illegal drugs. These drugs may result in flooding of dopamine, a neurotransmitter present in brain that regulates our body movements and emotions. This pleasurable increase in dopamine levels leads the body toward chronic relapsing. It is the condition where the brain is unable to stop a person from consuming a drug, despite knowing its dangerous consequences.
Although one may feel a temporary high after consuming these medications, their frequent use may impair brain functioning over a longer period, showing visible symptoms such as nausea, numbness, increased heart rate, agitation, and even hypoxic brain damage in severe cases.
DrugFacts divides the consumption procedure into four phases of intoxication. The first phase shows mild dizziness that is similar to drunkenness, while the second is accompanied with hallucinations and slurred speech. The third phase causes unconsciousness with impairment of other senses and in the fourth phase the body loses contact with all senses.
Prescription drug abuse facts
With the rise of prescription drug abuse to unprecedented levels, a number of patients are required to seek professional help to recover from this condition. As these drugs are easily available and are relatively cheaper than alcohol and illegal drugs, young people use it with alcohol while binge drinking. After consuming high doses regularly, one may lack of self-control and unable to resist intense impulses to take drugs.
A report by Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has revealed that the percentage of misusers of prescription drugs significantly increased for those aged 12-17 from 2.2 in 2013 to 2.6 in 2014. Abusing these drugs can have ill effects on teens as they are still in a growing stage. Children who frequently use high doses of prescription drugs are at an increased risk of academic failure, and even dropout. Abuse of cough syrup may also lead to teen suicide.
Cold and cough medication abuse has the potential to become an epidemic. Moreover, tracking it is really difficult as such medicines are sold in all pharmacies. At times, teens quickly overdose through experimentation due to lack of awareness about the potential harm that these drugs can do. This problem can be resolved only when each parent in the United States is made aware of the drastic effects the addiction to cold and cough medication can have.
Substance addiction can come in many forms and widely differing materials. Aside from being addicted to illegal drugs and household chemicals, there is now an inexpensive alternative: cough syrup, as well as over the counter drugs, both of which can be acquired quite legally. The sad thing about it is that the teens addicted to these drugs are abusing a substance that was originally created to heal sickness and alleviate pain.
Cough syrup contains codeine, commonly used for analgesic purposes. It can be extracted from opium or synthesized from morphine, both of which are addictive drugs in themselves. Prescription-grade cough syrup contains larger concentrations of this chemical.
A common effect is an altered state of mind and sedation of the user, causing numbness. Users can easily go overboard as well, with overdose symptoms in common with other opiates. Some medicines also contain antihistamines that can cause another sedative effect.
Promethazine is also combined with codeine to combat cough, but this is also a chemical that, on its own, could also cause strong reactions in the user. It is a sedative drug, and as normally goes with these types of chemicals, causes inhibited function in terms of vision, and being slowed and having slurred speech as well. Users describe this feeling as being “zazzed”, when everything around you goes slowly.
Codeine in cough syrup is usually taken in a form called Purple Drank. The moniker comes from its color, which usually ranges from purple to pink depending on the cough syrup used and the ratio of mixing it with other drinks such as sodas.
This practice first gained influence in the southern states, and hip-hop artists popularized its use with the masses by including it in their songs. Effects include increased auditory sensations and visual stimuli, and leads to a feeling of being disconnected and strange, erratic behavior.
Among the foremost dangers in addictions of this type is how easy someone can get the materials, considering that it’s legally purchased from drugstores. Another scary factor is how cheaply it can be gotten, and considering the prices for illegal drugs, this would seem like a no-brainer for most teens on tight budgets wanting to get high.
A few dollars is all it takes to get high. The chemical of choice for most of the youth is Dextromorphan, also known as DXM, a substance found in many cough syrup formulations as well. This is what is commonly referred to as “Skittles” in underground lingo, and may even cause heart palpitations if it is abused. Medicine in tablet form contains much larger quantities of DXM; therefore a similar effect of consuming large amounts of syrup could be duplicated by just a few tablets.
Even cough syrup based drinks are easy to obtain, because all it takes is some prescription cough syrup, a can of soda, a Styrofoam cup, and you’re ready to get high. This is a very simple process in comparison to other types of drugs. Scary when you think of the implications. This is used as a recreational drink, and the effect will depend on the amount of the cough syrup, the ratio of mixing, and what else you put in it, commonly other pain-relieving tablets.
Sleeping aids can also be addictive in large enough doses, and could also have long-term effects on the user. Narcolepsy is common, and causes episodes of micro-sleep. This is particularly dangerous when driving, then falling asleep at the wheel. Diet pills being taken in larger than prescribed doses to shed weight faster is also dangerous, because the effects on the body are increased to a dangerous