OTC Drugs - Used, Abused or Misused?

The availability of many over the counter (OTC) drugs and availability of prescription drugs through black market has led to potential abuse of the drugs causing drug dependence and the side effects.

People buy the drugs OTC without an advice from their doctor either to save the doctor’s expense or time, but do you know how hazardous this can be?

Here in this article, you will read about the most commonly bought drugs OTC and their potential adverse effects.

1. Diclofenac / Ibuprofen (Pain killers)– The group of drugs known as Non-SteroidalAnti-inflammatorydrugs (NSAIDs) are the most commonly misused drugs which are available widely as OTC drugs. Most commonly they are bought for the purpose of relief from fever, headache and body pains.

They are a class of drugs which every doctor thinks twice before prescribing, but people tend to buy them without giving a single thought about what harm they can do.

They are well known to cause kidney, liver dysfunction. They can cause severe gastritis and gastro-intestinal bleed. In nephrology clinics, they have been identified as a very common cause of kidney dysfunction especially in susceptible people who suffer from diabetes and hypertension.

2. Antibiotics: All antibiotics are potentially misused by people. They buy them based on their family and friends experience. However, one must understand that such kind of misuse can lead to the drug resistance and the antibiotic won’t work, in case they really need it.

3. Cough Syrups: Dextromethorphan and codeine are the active ingredient in more than 100 OTC cough and cold medicines such as NyQuil, Benadryl.

These have been reported abuse of cough medicine to get high but the dangerous side effects including impaired judgment, vomiting, loss of muscle movement, seizures, blurred vision, drowsiness, shallow breathing, and a fast heart rate. When combined with alcohol or other drugs, a large dose can lead to death.

4. Diet pills: In large doses, diet pills can create a mild buzz. But misuse of diet pills can also signal a serious eating disorder. Abuse of diet pills often starts with trying just a few in order to lose weight. But these OTC medicines can be highly addictive.

5. Laxatives and herbal diuretics: They are frequently used for constipation and weight loss. Laxatives and herbal diuretics can cause serious dehydration and life-threatening loss of important minerals and salts that regulate the amount of water in the body.

6. Sexual performance medicines: OTC sexual performance medicines like Sildenafil are used by teens and adults without advice from their doctor for the purpose of enhancing sexual performance and erectile dysfunction. These medicines can cause heart problems, especially when combined with alcohol or when taken in large doses.

7. Opiods: Oxycocodone, Tramadol are frequently misused by people to get high, for pain relief as well as for sleeping difficulties. There is a relationship between opioid overdose and depressed respiration that has been confirmed, researchers are also studying the long-term effects on brain function.

8. Anti anxiety drugs: Like Diazepam, Etizolam, Lorazepam are frequently misused by people for relieving their anxiety but these drugs have high addiction potential and can cause liver injury as well as respiratory depression and brain hypoxia.

This is a summary of most commonly mis-used OTC drugs. Remember that OTC drugs are for your help only in case when your doctor is not accessible, but really they should not replace a doctor’s advice.

In case, you have an addiction to any of these OTC drugs, see a de-addiction doctor and discuss with him.