OTC Drug Addiction

OTC Drug Addiction

Over the counter drugs are medicines that are available without a prescription, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t used in off-label or illegal ways.

Teens and adults often abuse over the counter drugs for a quick high that’s easier to achieve than one requiring the purchase of illegal drugs, and some users may even think that the drugs are safe because they’re sold without a prescription. But OTC drugs can be dangerous, especially when they’re abused or taken too frequently.

At Banyan Treatment Centers Heartland, we offer drug and alcohol addiction treatment in Gilman, Illinois for those who are ready to get and stay sober. We treat a variety of addictions and can assist in treating OTC drug addiction. If you or someone you love is using over the counter drugs in an off-label manner, we’re here to help with therapy and treatment. Call 888-280-4763 to learn more about our programs.

What Are the Most Commonly Abused Over the Counter Drugs?

Many people with a substance abuse or addiction problem are abusing over the counter drugs. Some of the most commonly abused OTC drugs include:

  • Cough medicine, often referred to as “sizzurp”
  • Pseudoephedrine, which is in many decongestants
  • Loperamide, an anti-diarrheal medicine

Each drug is abused for different effects. For example, those who abuse cough medicine are using its main ingredient, dextromethorphan (DXM), for a high. Loperamide, when taken in exceptionally high doses, behaves like opioids in the brain and body. And ingredients in pseudoephedrine can be used to create methamphetamine.1

Someone abuses OTC medicines when they take a higher dose than they should, they take the drug more frequently than they should, mix the drugs together, or use the medicine to create illegal drugs. Most OTC medications are intended for short-term use, like cough medicine, so taking the drugs for the long-term can be dangerous.

Teens & Over the Counter Drug Abuse

Teens and young adults are especially susceptible to the dangers of OTC drug abuse. They may use drugs like cough syrup or similar medicines containing DXM to get high, an act that’s often referred to as “robo-tripping” by teens and young adults. Addicts of these and other OTC medications need detox and treatment to get sober and healthy.

The Dangers of OTC Drug Abuse

As with other types of drug abuse, OTC drug abuse can be dangerous to the mind and body. In high doses, these drugs can lead to liver damage, intestinal damage, increased blood pressure, brain damage, stroke, and deadly overdoses. 1

At Banyan Treatment Centers Heartland, we offer treatment for patients who are addicted to prescription and OTC drugs. Our OTC and prescription pill detox programs can help patients find their sobriety.

Call 888-280-4763 to get help for yourself or a loved one.


  1. NIH - Over-the-Counter Medicines
Alyssa who is the National Director of Digital Marketing, joined the Banyan team in 2016, bringing her five-plus years of experience. She has produced a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. Through strategic marketing campaign concepts, Alyssa has established Banyan as an industry leader and a national household name.