The Top Non-Narcotic Medications That Can Cause Drug Addiction

Illicit Drugs Aren’t the Only Danger. Addictive drugs aren’t found just in dark alleys from shady dealers. Drug addiction can be lurking as near by as your medicine cabinet. A lot of people aren’t aware that prescription and non-prescription drugs have just as much potential to be abused and become addictive as illicit drugs.

More than Opioids Are Addictive

When you think of becoming addicted to non-illicit drugs, you probably think of things like morphine and Vicodin. However, over the counter, non-narcotic drugs can cause just as many problems in regards to drug addiction and are becoming more commonly abused every year.

Help Is A Call Away.(888) 465-4344i

Dextromethorpan is commonly found in over the counter cough medications. High doses can get a person high and they can even cause hallucinations. A 2008 study showed that at least one in 10 teenagers had abused products with dextromethorpan. The scariest part of the drug is it requires as much as 50 times the recommended dose to cause a high, and these products don’t contain just one ingredient; many contain various forms of NSAIDs, too. Overdosing on things like acetaminophen can cause serious damage to the liver and kidneys and even lead to death.


Pseudoephedrine is the active ingredient in over the counter drugs like Sudafed and when used properly, they treat nasal congestion. When they’re being misused, however, they can create a high that’s similar to that of ephedrine, producing a euphoric high and “tingly” feeling. Pseudoephedrine is also used to make meth, one of the most highly addictive drugs in existence, opening the door to potential drug addiction problems down the road. Signs of pseudoephedrine addiction/abuse include dilated pupiles, lack of appetite, weight loss, and paranoia. People who have abused it often report taking it to lose weight and increase their awareness during their sport of choice. More serious effects of abuse include heart palpitations, heart attacks, and paranoid psychosis if use is being combined with other narcotics. Some areas plagued with meth use have tried to cut down on the abuse of this drug by keeping track of who is purchasing the drugs with an ID being required to buy it. Some retailers won’t sell it to people who are under the age of 18.

Drugs like diphenhydramine and dramamine are commonly abused among teenagers. They’re easy to obtain and generally don’t raise alarm in parents or guardians. Unfortunately, these drugs have to be taken in extremely high doses. To achieve a high from dramamine, for example, a teen would have to take as many as 40 pills. Abuse can lead to heart problems, depression, memory loss, kidney/liver failure, irregular heartbeats, and even death.

Tramadol is a commonly prescribed pain medication to treat moderate to severe pain. It’s most commonly prescribed in a veterinary setting for post-surgical pain in dogs. While it is considered a Class C drug, tramadol abuse and addiction is on the rise. When taken in excess, it can cause a high. Some people take an excess in pills, while others will snort, smoke, or even chew tramadol. Tramadol abuse can lead to muscle tremors, difficulty breathing, hallucinations, lack of coordination, and even seizures.

Help Is A Call Away.(888) 465-4344i

If you’re worried that someone you care about is abusing over the counter drugs or a prescription drug to get high, or has developed a drug addiction problem you should step in immediately to help them. Support and advice can be found by calling a hotline at 800-447-9081.

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