on all orders over $75.
100% money back guarantee.
Support 24/7

How to Spot Cough Syrup Abuse

cough syrup abuse

We hear a lot about drug use and addiction in the media. But the misuse of legal substances like cough syrup and other over-the-counter medications can be just as dangerous as illegal narcotics. These types of substances are easily accessible and may seem like a safer alternative to illicit drugs, but they can still produce significant physical and psychological effects when abused.

Cough syrup abuse is especially common among young people due to its availability and reputation for being less risky than street drugs. Unfortunately, cough syrups are highly addictive if used in excess or without medical supervision. If you or someone you know may be misusing these medicines, it's important to recognize the signs of cough syrup abuse and get help before it becomes an even bigger problem.

What Is Cough Syrup, Exactly?

Cough syrups are a type of medicine intended to reduce coughs and other symptoms related to common colds and flu. Usually sold as over-the-counter options, cough syrups work by blocking signals from the cough center in the brain. Many of these cough suppressants contain active ingredients like Dextromethorphan (DXM) and codeine, and depending on the formulation, cough syrups may also be used as a mild sedative or pain reliever.

There are also child-friendly versions of cough syrup, which contain fewer active ingredients and may include flavorings like honey or sugar. While these cough syrups are generally considered safe for children, they can still cause addiction if taken in larger-than-recommended doses.

How Is Cough Syrup Misused?

People abuse cough syrup for its mind-altering effects or to get high. The drug can be taken in large quantities orally or mixed with beverages such as soda or alcohol to mask its taste. Some individuals even dissolve the medicine into nasal sprays for a faster route of administration.

DXM is the most commonly abused cough syrup ingredient because it produces effects similar to those of hallucinogenic drugs. In high doses, DXM can cause users to experience slurred speech, disorientation, rapid eye movement, and mood changes.

Why Do Users Choose Cough Syrup?

Cough syrup is often chosen as a drug of abuse because it's easy to obtain and relatively inexpensive. Another reason cough syrup is abused is that it's seen as a "safer" alternative to other substances, like street drugs. Unfortunately, cough syrup can be just as dangerous when used in excess or without a doctor's supervision.

Is Cough Syrup Addictive?

Yes, cough syrup is highly addictive due to its mood-altering effects and chemical makeup. Users can develop a physical dependence on cough syrup very quickly, especially if they take the drug in high doses, over a long period of time, or combine it with alcohol or other drugs. DXM, in particular, is very habit-forming and can be difficult to quit.

Signs of Cough Syrup Abuse

If you're concerned about a loved one or your own reliance on cough suppressants, common signs of cough syrup abuse include:

  • increased heart rate/blood pressure
  • drowsiness, dizziness, or confusion
  • slurred speech
  • vomiting
  • dry mouth
  • constipation or diarrhea
  • changes in appetite or sleep patterns

Additionally, people who are abusing cough syrup may become more secretive with their activities, have a greater need for money, and become socially isolated.

Does Cough Syrup Show Up on a Drug Test?

Yes, cough syrup can be detected on a drug test. However, it depends on the type of drug screen and which cough suppressant ingredients are being tested for. For instance, DXM is detectable on some types of urine and saliva tests, while codeine is detectable on some blood and hair tests. DXM may even be mistaken for PCP in certain drug screenings, due to their similar chemical structures.

Does Quitting Cough Syrup Cause Withdrawal?

Yes, quitting cough syrup can cause withdrawal. Depending on how long and how much cough syrup has been taken, symptoms of withdrawal may include sweating, tremors, and anxiety. Because DXM is particularly addictive, it also has a higher chance of causing withdrawal symptoms. Stopping abruptly can cause individuals to experience nausea, vomiting, shakiness, headaches, and insomnia, making it all the more difficult for them to get clean.

Regardless of which type is being misused, detoxing from cough syrup abuse should always be done with medical supervision to ensure the safest treatment possible and minimize any potential complications.

Treatment for Cough Syrup Abuse

If cough syrup abuse is left untreated, it can lead to serious health problems and even death. Fortunately, there are treatment options available for cough syrup addiction.

The best course of action to treat cough syrup abuse is to seek professional help. Addiction specialists can help individuals detoxify from the drug in a safe and comfortable environment while also providing additional support through behavioral therapy. With proper treatment, individuals can regain their mental and physical health while learning how to better manage triggers that can lead to cough syrup abuse relapse.

Resources for Getting Over Cough Syrup Abuse

  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA): Find treatment options near you, substance abuse facts and statistics, and further information on cough syrup abuse. Includes a free, confidential 24/7 helpline, available at 1-800-662-4357.
  • American Addiction Centers: Provides a national rehab directory, including both in-patient and out-patient rehabilitation centers.
  • Offers information and guidance for those struggling with substance abuse, including tools for addiction and treatment options.

Get the Answers You Need with Countrywide

If you're concerned that someone you know may be struggling with cough syrup abuse, Countrywide Testing has the answers you need. We offer discreet, at-home drug testing kits that will help you get confirmation and start your loved one on the road to recovery.

Countrywide offers an array of drug testing products for workplace testing, healthcare emergencies, law enforcement purposes, and individuals trying to stay clean after rehab.

Our test kits are convenient, affordable, and ship to you quickly. Plus, our lab is accredited by SAMHSA, so you can rest assured your test results are handled in accordance with the highest industry standards.

Want more information on how Countrywide can support drug safety and rehabilitation? Just contact our team today.