Many people who use over-the-counter nasal sprays like Afrin wonder if they should be concerned about dependence or addiction. While Afrin addiction isn’t comparable to stimulant or opioid addiction, there is a sort of rebound effect that occurs when someone uses this nasal spray for long periods. Let’s take a look at whether you can get addicted to Afrin.
What Is Afrin?
Afrin is the brand name for oxymetazoline, which is a topical decongestant and vasoconstrictor medication. Afrin is a nasal spray that reduces congestion by shrinking the blood vessels in the nasal passages, helping a person breathe better.
It’s usually used to treat congestion caused by allergies or the common cold. However, it may be used for other purposes.
Afrin is available over-the-counter. It’s a highly effective decongestant, taking effect in as little as 10 minutes and lasting as long as 12 hours after one use.
In addition to its decongestant effects, adverse Afrin side effects that could occur include:
Temporary burning, stinging, and dryness in the nose
Slow or fast heartbeat
Nausea and/or vomiting
While effective, many users complain of experiencing congestion soon after they start using this medication regularly, specifically after three days of consistent use. Also referred to as rebound decongestion, many people attribute this return of symptoms to Afrin’s addictive potential.
Is Afrin Addictive?
Although you can become dependent on Afrin, it is not addictive. Rather, the body can quickly become accustomed to its effects, meaning that using the same amount will no longer work as it did after the first use.
What people consider to be Afrin addiction is actually a rebound of symptoms that could occur after a few days of using this type of nasal spray consistently. Your nose may become less responsive to Afrin nasal spray side effects after more than three days of consistent use.
As a result, you may require more and more of the spray to control your congestion. Congestion could also worsen if you suddenly stop using Afrin. Some people may mistake this rebound of symptoms for Afrin nasal spray addiction, but it isn’t.
True drug addiction is a compulsive, psychological need for and use of a habit-forming substance that’s known to produce physical, mental, and social repercussions. Over-the-counter nasal sprays don’t usually cause the psychological symptoms or cravings that mark addiction.
With that said, rebound congestion from Afrin is preventable. If you’re interested in Afrin for treating your congestion, make sure not to use it for more than three days in a row, with as few doses as possible per day.
Be sure not to use higher doses of Afrin than recommended on the box, as it could lead to potentially uncomfortable side effects like the ones we mentioned earlier. If your congestion worsens or does not improve, then you may require a prescription medication that’s a little stronger.
Prescription nasal sprays containing steroids don’t cause this rebound effect and can be used long-term. Speak to your doctor about possibly obtaining a prescription if your symptoms worsen or don’t improve with Afrin.
Side Effects of Afrin Addiction & Overuse
As we’ve mentioned, you can overuse nasal spray, and when you do, you may experience certain symptoms, and you may not experience relief from the symptoms you’re trying to treat. Afrin abuse or overuse includes:
Using it for more than one week
Using it more frequently than directed
Trying to stop using it or skipping a dose, but getting very congested
The primary symptoms of overuse of nasal spray like Afrin are congestion. It’s also likely that whatever is causing your congestion will return. This is especially true for those who have chronic allergies.
Afrin overuse can also lead to symptoms like:
Is There an Afrin Addiction Cure?
While there is no Afrin addiction treatment – mainly because the drug is not addictive – a person can become dependent on this nasal spray. If you’ve been using it for weeks or months, speak to your doctor about other treatment options that are safer and more effective when taken long-term.
Additionally, although Afrin addiction is not possible, inhalant abuse is a growing problem in the U.S., especially among teens and young adults. This form of drug use involves sniffing or inhaling the fumes of harmful chemicals (and, in some cases, feces) to get high. If your loved one is showing signs of any kind of drug or alcohol use, our Milford treatment center can help.
Banyan offers medical detox in Delaware among a variety of other addiction treatment services to help slowly wean patients off drugs or alcohol. Following a proper and medically-assisted detox schedule prevents relapse and increases the person’s chances of long-term sobriety.
Our Milford rehab also offers inpatient Delaware addiction treatment that incorporates individual and group therapy programs where clients can connect with therapists and others in the recovery community to develop habits conducive to a sober lifestyle. No matter how severe your substance use disorder is, our addiction specialists are ready to help.
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.