How Over-The-Counter Medication Can Become Addictive

When most people think of drug addicts, they have a particular image in mind. There is a particular stereotype around drug addiction that portrays those affected as unemployed people who live on the streets and take drugs in dark alleyways. Others assume that drug addicts are those from a poor background or who have had a bad upbringing. However, this is not always the case. Many drug addicts are high functioning addicts, working in stressful jobs and managing to keep their addiction hidden from most of those around them.

Moreover, not all addicts are addicted to illegal drugs either. The truth is that there are many individuals all over the UK addicted to legally sold over-the-counter (OTC) medicines. Many people are unaware of the amount of OTC medication they take because they automatically reach for painkillers as soon as they feel a headache coming on or a twinge in their back, and they do so without giving it a moment’s thought.

Over-The-Counter Addiction

ITV recently aired a documentary called Over-the-Counter Addiction, which showed how people in the UK are quick to take pain medication. The programme focused on the risks of becoming addicted to OTCs and the fact that it is easy to purchase large batches of these painkillers.

According to the chief executive of Action on Addiction, it is easy to become addicted to OTCs without even realising it. He said, “Addiction to over-the-counter medications, like those with a codeine base, begins because the drugs are effective. They generally do what they say they will: make a person feel better. But this is what encourages people to repeat the use.”

Nonetheless, he feels that those taking medication to relieve certain symptoms may need to keep taking it in order to avoid withdrawal symptoms. This can then lead to more problems.

Accessing Over-The-Counter Medication

Over-the-counter medication is available from pharmacies, supermarkets and many other retail stores, and there is no need to have a prescription in order to buy them. Nevertheless, they cannot be sold to those under the age of sixteen, and no more than two packets of tablets can be sold in one transaction.

Over-the-counter medications are available for a range of minor health ailments including headaches, period pain, colds, flu, diarrhoea, nausea, pain relief, and inflammation.

Although OTC medications are safe to take when the instructions are followed, they can cause a number of health risks if abused. If more than the recommended amount is taken, they can cause adverse side effects and some types of OTC should not be taken in conjunction with alcohol or illegal drugs.

Long Term Consequences of Taking OTCs

Those that continue to take OTCs long-term are at risk of developing addictions and suffering from health complications such as kidney and liver damage. Some OTCs, when used incorrectly, can cause symptoms including dizziness, anxiety, heart palpitations, nausea, loss of appetite and nervousness.

Are You Addicted to OTCs?

You may have developed an addiction to over-the-counter medication without even knowing it. Nonetheless, if you feel as though you need a specific medication to get through the day, you may already have a problem. You may have noticed that you are taking more and more of this particular medication to make you feel better and you find it difficult to cut down.

If you have started to hide the fact that you are taking certain pills from your loved ones, this could be a real sign that you have an addiction and need some help.

Addiction Helper is a free service helping those with addiction to access the treatments they need. For more information, contact Addiction Helper today.


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