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Legal Medical Addictions: Are Your Loved Ones in Danger?

Legal Medical Addictions: Are Your Loved Ones in Danger?
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By    |   Wednesday, 27 July 2016 11:17 AM

Everyone knows about the dangers of cocaine, heroin, and alcohol abuse. But did you know many over-the-counter drugs, herbal supplements, and even kitchen items are not only addictive, but can also give someone you love a “legal” but dangerous high?

For example, The Annals of Emergency Medicine recently published two case studies revealing the dangers of Imodium abuse. Both patients in the studies died. The key ingredient in Imodium, which is an anti-diarrheal, over-the-counter medicine, is loperamide.

“People looking for either self-treatment of withdrawal symptoms or euphoria are overdosing on loperamide with sometimes deadly consequences,” said pharmacist William Eggleston, a fellow in clinical toxicology and emergency medicine at the Upstate New York Poison Center and Upstate Medical University Hospital in Syracuse. “Loperamide is safe in therapeutic doses but extremely dangerous in high doses."

Has somebody you love been purchasing abnormally large amounts of seemingly ordinary products, like nutmeg, or have you noticed things vanishing from your medicine cabinets? Check this list of common, potentially addictive items to see if any ring a bell.

Nutmeg. A spice often associated with holiday treats, nutmeg contains myristicin, a potent oil that has an effect on the body similar to amphetamines. Deliberately consuming large amounts of nutmeg can cause a hallucinogenic high. Typically, effects do not manifest until a few hours after consumption, but the “trip” can last for 24 hours or more. Side effects include rapid heartbeat, nausea, vomiting, and agitation. According to a study by the US National Library of Health, most nutmeg overdoses are deliberate, and typically by adolescents.

Bitter orange. This plant compound has a multitude of uses, but it is commonly included in weight-loss supplements. Because it provides similar effects to ephedra, a substance the U.S. Food and Drug Administration banned in 2004, bitter orange is often found in products labeled “ephedra-free." “Among the many chemicals in bitter orange are synephrine and octopamine - chemicals similar to those in ephedra,” said Katherine Zeratsky, in an article published on mayoclinic.org. “These chemicals may speed up your heart rate and raise your blood pressure.” In large doses, diet pills can create a mild buzz, and can be highly addictive.

Kava. Sometimes called kava kava, this is a root that has experienced a surge in popularity as a natural remedy to relieve anxiety. It is often brewed in teas, but is also available in tincture and pill form. High doses of kava are known to have similar effects to alcohol, such as euphoria, dizziness, and loss of coordination. Many cases of liver damage and death have been traced to kava use. It has been banned in Europe and Canada, but is still readily available in the United States.

Robitussin. This a popular over-the-counter drug that contains dextromethorphan (DXM). When used properly, Robitussin alleviates cough and cold symptoms. High doses, however, produce an entirely different outcome. According to an educational collaboration between WebMD Editorial and StopMedicineAbuse.org, DXM affects the region of the brain that controls coughing, and is safe at normal doses. However, at higher doses of 10 to 50 times the suggested amount, DXM can cause “hallucinatory and dissociative effects similar to those of PCP or ketamine (special K.)” Other side effects at high doses are impaired vision, slurred speech, memory loss, and coma.

Nyquil. This popular cold and flu medicine also contains DXM, and can be abused to obtain a “high.” There is also the risk of dependence when used as a sleep aid, and dosage can increase to unsafe levels as the body builds a tolerance level. Nyquil is typically abused in the liquid, not pill, form. Actress Jane Lynch confessed in an article published by the the Daily Mail that she sought help from Alcoholics Anonymous to overcome her severe addiction to liquid Nyquil. She had turned to Nyquil to self-medicate her depression.

Benadryl. Also known as diphenhydramine, this antihistamine blocks the effects of the naturally occurring chemical histamine in the body. Benadryl is used to treat allergy symptoms, but is also commonly used as a sleep aid. Large doses of Benadryl, however, can provide a “high.” People who abuse Benadryl experience short-term memory loss, euphoria, and hallucinations. Other harmful side effects of a Benadryl overdose include extreme sleepiness, confusion, blurred vision, dilated pupils, shaking, and seizures. Unfortunately, Benadryl abuse is increasing, especially with teens and young adults. A multitude of websites exist where people anonymously share their experiences, give advice, or give warnings.

Dramamine. This motion-sickness aid contains dimenhydrinate, an antihistamine. According to experts, high doses of Dramamine will induce psychotropic effects, such as hallucinations and euphoria. Dramamine abuse is popular among teenagers, because it is inexpensive and relatively easy to get. Street terms for it include dime, dime tabs, d-tabs, drams, and substance d.

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Everyone knows about the dangers of illicit drug and alcohol abuse. But did you know many over-the-counter drugs, herbal supplements, and even kitchen items are not only addictive, but can also give someone you love a legal but dangerous high? Here are seven you may not know.
legal, addiction, warning signs
Wednesday, 27 July 2016 11:17 AM
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