By Peter Maplethorpe
Over the counter (OTC) medications are obtainable easily,
are highly abused, and cause addictions in many people. Today in rehabs
across the world, OTC are accounting for a large amount of addictions being
Because you can buy them without a doctor’s prescription,
many people think that they are not harmful, and not addicting. It is very
important to know and understand what over the counter medications are and
how they can be harmful.
Over the counter (OTC) medications, are drugs that do not
require a prescription. They can be bought at any pharmacy, grocery store,
or convenience store without a doctor’s consent. Many people think that
because they do not require a prescription, they are not harmful when they
are abused. However, many health complications as well as addiction can
occur when a person abuses over the counter drugs.
Just like prescription drugs, over the counter
medications change the user’s body functions from its natural state. These
changes can be harmful to the mind and body, and many people who abuse them
develop an addiction. Over the counter (OTC) medications are abused when a
person takes too much of the drug at one time, or has taken it too often.
When a person abuses over the counter meds frequently, they will build up a
tolerance, dependence, and then an addiction.
Addiction to OTC medications is quite common especially
in teenagers and young adults. These groups normally abuse them for the
‘high’ they produce. Elderly people are also known to abuse certain types of
OTC meds to fall asleep.
Over the counter cold medications are found in cough
syrup and tablet form. The most common abused OTC cold meds contain
dyphenhydramine or dextromethorphan. Some will have pseudophedrine, which is
a decongestant and can be used to make methamphetamine. Brand names are
Robitussin, Vicks, Coricidin, and Nyquil. However, there are a least 125
different types of over the counter cold medications that contain
dextromethorphan. Dextromethorphan is not harmful when it is taken properly.
However, in high amounts it can cause a ‘high’ feeling, hallucinations,
confusion, and numbness. There are even slang terms used when a person is
abusing OTC cold medications; such as, robo tripping and skittles.
Over the counter (OTC) sleeping medications can be found
in tablet forms and are most abused by young people and the elderly. The
most common abused OTC sleeping medications will contain a chemical called
doxylamine. Brand names are Amnien, Restoril, Sonata, Excederin PM, and
Tylenol PM. When these drugs are abused, they can cause even greater
sleeping problems, weaken the body, or cause a condition called narcolepsy.
Over the counter diet medications are commonly found in
tablet form. The most common abused OTC diet meds will contain ephedrine and
caffeine. Brand names are Dexatrim, Acutrim, and Metabolife. People who
abuse diet medications normally do it for three reasons: to get ‘high’, get
a boost of energy, or to lose a fast amount of weight. These can cause
serious harm to a person’s body when abused; can cause weight difficulties
and lead to an addiction.
Although these are less commonly abused, there are still
prevalent cases of abuse and addiction that involve motion sickness
medication. These come in tablet form and contain dimenhydrinates. The most
common abused motion sickness medication is known as, Dramamine. In high
doses they can cause a ‘high’ feeling and mild hallucinations.
There are many harmful effects that over the counter
drugs can have on a person. For example, when a person abuses or has an
addiction to OTC cold medications, they can cause permanent kidney damage.
Overdoses and deaths from OTC medications can occur. An overdose on over the
counter drugs will depend on the exact drug, what it was mixed with, how
much was taken, how quickly it was taken, and the own individuals body
One of the most dangerous over the counter drug that is
commonly abused is called Dextromethorphan or DXM. DXM is found in several
types of cough syrups. Over the past ten years there has been an increase in
addicts being treated for DXM addiction. Statistics show that between 1999
and 2004, there was a 700% increase in the amount of DXM related overdoses,
some ended in death.
Over the counter medications are harmful and lead to an
addiction and can be fatal. If you or someone you know is abusing these
drugs or has an addiction to them and wants to get help, [email protected]
is one such place to try.
Jeeranun Mongkondee, Regional Director for Thailand and Vietnam, PH-Japan
(left) and Mr. Kazuo Shibata, Consul-General of Japan in Chiang Mai (right)
sign the agreement to promote early detection of breast and cervical
The Government of Japan, under its Grant Assistance for
Japanese NGO Projects, is providing funds for “The Project to Promote Early
Detection and Appropriate Treatment of Cervical and Breast Cancer in Chiang
Mai” conducted by a Japanese NGO, PH-Japan. On November 2, 2010, Mr. Kazuo
Shibata, Consul-General of Japan in Chiang Mai, and Ms. Jeeranun Mongkondee,
Regional Director for Thailand and Vietnam, PH-Japan, jointly signed the
funding contract for the project at the Consulate-General of Japan in Chiang
In Thailand, the leading causes of cancer deaths in women
are cervical cancer and breast cancer. Cervical cancer can be detected early
and treated with regular screening and appropriate follow-up. A Pap test,
which is a screening method for cervical cancer, can help detect suspicious
cell changes on the cervix before cancer actually develops. Although regular
Pap tests have been recommended for women in a certain age group, the
percentage receiving pap tests, especially in rural areas, remains low. For
early detection of breast cancer, breast self exams, or BSE, is also
recommended to find suspicious changes promptly. However, many women do not
know how to perform BSE properly.
PH-Japan has implemented a project for early detection of
cervical cancer in Maerim District and Maetaeng District, Chiang Mai
Province since 2008. Based on this experience, PH-Japan will start a project
targeting women aged 30-60 in Saraphi District and Sankampaeng District to
promote early detection and appropriate treatment of cervical and breast
cancer in cooperation with the Chiang Mai Provincial Public Health Office.
In response to a request from PH-Japan, the Government of
Japan has decided to provide funds amounting to 2,709,300 baht for the first
phase of the project. The fund will be used to procure medical equipment, to
arrange training for nurses and health staff involved in Pap tests and
introductions of BSE, and to arrange seminars for health volunteers playing
a key role in raising awareness in communities. It is expected that local
public health screening for cervical and breast cancer will be improved and
more women will receive Pap tests regularly and practise BSE properly to
reduce their health risks.
For more information, please contact Mr. Sato, Consul,
Ms. Hoshii, Ms.Hamaguchi, Coordinators for GGP, Consulate-General of Japan
in Chiang Mai. 053-203-367. (PR)