Can You Become Addicted to Legal Drugs?

It’s likely you have Tylenol, Motrin and Sudafed in your medicine cabinet. We often think of these drugs as helpful to have in times of need, whether it be a mild fever, nagging cough or moderate pain. However, it’s important to understand safety with these drugs when taking them or giving them to others. While these drugs are legal and given even to children, they can have serious and permanent effects when not taken properly.

Are Legal Drugs Addictive?

There are many legal drugs that are addictive in nature. However, we will be discussing only acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Motrin), and pseudophedrine (Sudafed). These drugs are at low risk for addiction but do have withdrawal symptoms to look out for when using. Sudafed, or all products made of pseudophedrine, is at the highest risk of being addictive.

You may have noticed when buying Sudafed that you are asked to show identification or sign a paper with your name stating the date of purchase. That probably led you to wonder if Sudafed is addictive. These regulations are in response to a recent spike in the abuse of this cold medicine.

What is Sudafed Abuse?

Most common in teenagers, Sudafed abuse refers to taking the drug in higher quantities or more often than is recommended. The drug, when taken in larger doses, has a stimulant effect and is desirable for that reason. However, this is not the safe or advisable use of the drug, and taking more than recommended can be detrimental. Ongoing Sudafed use can result in headaches, nausea, high blood pressure, dizziness, and anxiety.

Sudafed overdose can result in death or permanent internal damage. If you are taking other stimulants or medications, it is not recommended to take Sudafed, as the effects can be harmful or life-threatening.

Is Regular Tylenol Addictive?

Many people wonder if Tylenol is addictive because it is so common to take this drug. Tylenol is often taken for long periods of time and is recommended for a wide range of ailments. Many people consider Tylenol a miracle drug and take it regularly for months or even years. However, ongoing Tylenol use should always be monitored by a medical professional.

Am I Addicted to Tylenol?

The chemicals in Tylenol are not addictive by nature, but you can develop a dependency on the drug. People who take Tylenol more than is recommended notice severe headaches, cramps or nausea when they discontinue its use. These side effects, commonly called “rebound headaches,” signify that the body requires the drug to function normally. Talk to you doctor if you think you may be suffering from a Tylenol dependency or notice undesirable symptoms when not taking it. You may be experiencing withdrawal.

What is Ibuprofen Abuse?

Ibuprofen is likely the most legally used drug in the United States. Ibuprofen is recommended to treat pain, fevers, inflammation, muscle soreness, headaches, cramps and more. However, when someone begins taking Ibuprofen more than is recommended, it is ibuprofen abuse. Ibuprofen abuse can result in:

  • Withdrawal symptoms
  • Organ damage
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Anxiety
  • Nervousness

Can I Overdose on Ibuprofen?

Taking large amounts of ibuprofen is one of the most common ways young people attempt suicide. Death from excess ibuprofen is very unlikely, but permanent damage is not. Taking excessive amounts of ibuprofen can result in kidney failure, ulcers, vomiting, severe headache and even loss of consciousness. Taking ibuprofen, Sudafed or Tylenol in excess can force the body to process the drugs in unhealthy and unpredictable ways.

Over-the-Counter Drug Abuse

If you or someone you know is abusing Ibuprofen, Tylenol or Sudafed, seek professional help. Ongoing abuse of these drugs can permanently damage the organs and cause immediate unwanted side effects, such as nausea and headache. It is likely someone abusing these drugs is looking for mind-altering effects and is therefore more susceptible to using other substances, as well.

Contact 12 Keys Rehab today and get the help you or your loved one need.

The Addiction Blog