Over the counter (OTC) Drug abuse

“Educating each new group of middle schoolers about the risks associated with these substances is critical.”

-Marcia Lee Taylor,  Partnership to End Addiction*

Talk with your child today about OTC Drug Misuse

Bring it up after practice, at dinner, or during TV time. But make sure that you do bring it up. Spotting OTC drug misuse can be tough, and your child may feel that OTC drugs are not dangerous. But if you sit down with them early and discuss the risks covered below, along with your values and expectations as a family, your child can develop a healthy understanding of the risks involved with abusing these medications.

DXM (Dextromethorphan)

Dextromethorphan (DXM), found in cough medicines, can cause hallucinations and a potent high when abused. Cough medicines are popular among young people, as they’re often readily accessible in medicine cabinets, at home, or at a friend’s house. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) lists different dose-dependent plateaus, as experienced by people who abuse DXM. The maximum recommended daily dose of DXM is 120 mg; beyond that, intoxication and dangerous side effects begin to appear.

Motion Sickness Pills (Dimenhydrinate)

OTC motion sickness medications often contain diphenhydramine and dimenhydrinate. You may know these drugs, such as Benadryl and Dramamine, respectively. While symptoms of motion sickness medication abuse vary significantly depending on body weight and metabolism, some serious risks include heart attack, seizures, and coma.

Chronic abuse can result in organ damage to the liver or kidneys, cognitive issues, such as problems with memory and learning, and psychological symptoms, like depression.

Diet and Caffeine Pills

These over the counter medications are in a class known as Stimulants, and also include some decongestants, and even herbal remedies. Appetite suppressants, and their herbal counterparts, are particularly prone to abuse because of their widespread availability and numerous weight loss claims. Abusing these medications come with many risks, including increased chances of stroke and heart attack, liver and kidney damage, and hallucinations or delusions.

Pain Relievers

OTC pain reliever misuse is tricky to detect because it happens as a way to control pain. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory pain medications (NSAIDs) are the most dangerous kind. Drugs that contain acetaminophen, for example Tylenol, can lead to liver damage, kidney damage, and cardiovascular complications if abused.


Roanoke Area Youth Substance Abuse Coalition

RAYSAC is a group of concerned citizens striving to keep the youth and young adults of the Roanoke Valley informed, educated and aware so that they can make healthy decisions surrounding alcohol, tobacco and drugs.

Contact Us

Address: P.O. Box 13543, Roanoke, VA 24035  |  Phone: 540.982.1427  |  Email: raysacorg@gmail.com