Parents of teen and pre-teen children may underestimate the potential for abuse of this drug that is readily available in many pharmacies across Nigeria. It is important for these pharmacies to move cough medicine bottles behind the counter to prevent easy access to minors and consequently addiction which can cause mental health issues. Among young people and some adults, this is one of the more popular drugs of abuse but it is both addicting and its abuse can result in a fatal overdose.
What is drug addiction?
Drug addiction is a chronic disease characterized by compulsive, or uncontrollable, drug seeking and use despite harmful consequences and changes in the brain, which can be long lasting. These changes in the brain can lead to the harmful behaviors seen in people who use drugs. Drug addiction is also a relapsing disease. Relapse is the return to drug use after an attempt to stop.
The path to drug addiction begins with the voluntary act of taking drugs. However, over time, a person’s ability to choose not to do so becomes a problem. Seeking and taking the drug becomes habitual. This is mostly due to the effects of long-term drug exposure on brain function. Addiction affects parts of the brain involved in reward and motivation, learning and memory, and control over behavior. Addiction is a disease that affects both the brain and behavior.
The main intoxicating ingredient in over-the-counter cough medicines is dextromethorphan. In large doses, it creates drunkenness, hallucinations and a sense of being separated from one’s body and identity. It is essential to know about the effects of this drug so you can spot its use. Also learn how to educate young and older people to protect them from harm or addiction.
Prescription cough medications may contain codeine or pseudoephedrine, also addictive and damaging to the brain if used in large quantity. These preparations will more likely be abused by an adult who has access to a physician to prescribe its use.
Dextromethorphan (DXM) is a cough suppressant that is available in over-the-counter cough medications. Since it is a legal drug, it can be bought by anyone, even a preteen. If a teen wants to know the results of abusing DXM, or how to abuse it, or even how to separate out the active ingredient from the formulation, this information is all available on the internet.
DXM is an opioid without effects on pain. When taken in large doses, DXM causes a depressant effect and sometimes a hallucinogenic effect. Repeatedly seeking to experience that feeling can lead to addiction-a chronic relapsing brain condition characterized by inability to stop using a drug despite damaging consequences to a person’s life and health.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
The symptoms that result from DXM abuse depend on how much of the medication is taken and whether another drug such as alcohol or marijuana is added to the mix. There are four stagesof intoxication described by users of DXM.
The first stageis mild drunkenness. The second is mild drunkenness plus unclearspeech and possibly mild hallucinations. Moreover, short-term memory can be destroyed by the drug.
The third stage is adifferentstate ofawareness. Vision or other senses may bereduced. In addition, in the fourth state, a person can lose contact with his (or her) body, with all senses shut off.
The therapeutic dosage for dextromethorphan (abbreviated as DXM), when treating a cold or cough, is 10 to 29 milligrams every four hours. However, when seeking intoxication, a person may take 250 to 1,500 milligrams of the drug at one time.
The symptoms above may be accompanied by confusion, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, fast heartbeat, stomach pain and disorientation.Misuse of DXM products containing acetaminophen can cause liver damage.
PHYSICAL SIGNS RESULTING FROM OTHER INGREDIENTS IN COUGH MEDICATION
Since dextromethorphan is combined with other ingredients such as acetaminophen, chlorpheniramine and guaifenesin, there can be signs of cough medication abuse that result from these other ingredients. For example, liver damage can result from high dosages of acetaminophen, guaufenesin can cause vomiting, and chlorpheniramine can cause faster heart rate, loss of coordination, seizures and coma.
As with any drug, symptoms of an increasing focus or addiction to substances like dextromethorphan include:
- Changes in appearance or habits
- Isolation from the family, spending evenings behind a locked bedroom door
- Evasiveness or secretive behavior
- Many hours spent away from home without explanation
- Missing money
- Changes in appetite
- Hostility and anger
- Mood changes without apparent reason
- Changes in relationships with friends or family
- Inability to focus
- Poor coordination
- Silence, withdrawn periods
ABUSE OF COUGH MEDICATIONS WITH CODEINE
Prescription cough medications are abused by a different crowd. Some people prefer a drink that contains prescription cough medicine with codeine or a combination of codeine and the antihistamine promethazine.
In this case, the cold medication is mixed with a soft drink. This practice became popular among rappers, hip-hop musician and audiences and has spread out from that limited area as it has become better known. Several rappers feature the drug combination in music leading to its wider use.
Heavy use of the drug can result in hallucinations and possibly seizures. As codeine is an opiate, it is possible to overdose. If the drink is abused along with other drugs, the possibility is even greater. This kind of overdose can result in death.
MOST FREQUENTLY ABUSED PRESCRIPTION DRUGS
There are three classes of prescription drugs that are frequently abused by all ages, including young people.
- Pain relievers that are derived from opium or are very similar in chemical composition
- Central nervous system depressants that are used to reduce symptoms of anxiety or aid sleep
- Stimulants such as those used for young people having trouble paying attention in school
All of these classes are addictive. Most of them can result in fatal overdoses by themselves or in combination. It is very common for people to mix prescription drugs together, often to try to achieve a specific effect.
No matter how good your relationship is with your children, they are going to witness prescription and over the counter drug abuse among their friends and colleagues. If their personal beliefs about drug abuse are not strong enough, they may be tempted to join in, even if the idea is that they will only “do it once to see what it is like.”
For some people, this is all it takes for them to set aside their beliefs and try that drug a few more times. In addition, some of these drugs are so addictive at high dosages especially when consumed during relaxation time which is all it takes for cravings to kick a person straight into full-blown addiction. The other possibility is that a person could get enough of high dosage of this drug to kill them at first trial.
POINTS TO REMEMBER
Over-the-counter (OTC) medicines are those that can be sold directly to people without a prescription. Those that have the potential for misuse include:
Dextromethorphan (DXM), a cough suppressant found in many OTC cold medicines, Loperamide, an anti-diarrheal, and Codeine. When misusing DXM, people swallow large quantities of the medicine, sometimes mixing it with soda for flavor,
Short-term effects of DXM misuse can range from mild stimulation to alcohol-or marijuana-like intoxication. A person can overdose on cold medicines containing DXM or Codeine. Furthermore, misuse of DXM or Codeine can lead to addiction. There are no medications to treat DXM or Codeine addiction. Behavioral therapies, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy may be helpful.
It will be advisable for the Nigerian government to have a nationwide ban on sales of cough medicine to minors in order to decrease the abuse rate of these medicines by teens, while also maintaining access for the millions of legitimate consumers of these products each year.
A range of care with a tailored treatment program and follow-up options can be crucial to success. Treatment should include both medical and mental health services as needed. Follow-up care may include community- or family-based recovery support systems.
Medications and devices can be used to manage withdrawal symptoms, prevent relapse, and treat co-occurring conditions.
Medications and devices can help suppress withdrawal symptoms during detoxification. Detoxification is not in itself “treatment,” but only the first step in the process. Patients who do not receive any further treatment after detoxification usually resume their drug use. Moreover, for relapse prevention, the patients can use medications to help re-establish normal brain function and decrease cravings. Medications are available for treatment of opioid (heroin, prescription pain relievers), tobacco (nicotine), and alcohol addiction. People who use more than one drug, which is very common, need treatment for all of the substances they use.
Drug addiction can be treated, but it is not simple. Addiction treatment must help the person do the following: stop using drugs, stay drug-free, and be productive in the family, at work, and in society. Successful treatment has several steps which include detoxification, behavioral counseling, medication, evaluation and treatment for co-occurring mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.
People within the criminal justice system may need additional treatment services to treat drug use disorders effectively. However, many offenders do not seem to have access to the types of services they need.
Nigeria is yet to have a standardize detox centre for those who are addictive to drug and experiencing withdrawal symptoms. This is one areas our government should look into in order to help those with addiction problem recover from their addiction and be able to live a fulfilled life. Restraining someone who is experiencing withdrawal from a drug abuse is not an ideal method but rather keep them in a safe place so that they can gradually withdraw successfully. This idea is not supporting the addiction but rather helping them to overcome their problem effectively.
Take Care of Yourself and Each Other!