Originally Posted On: NyQuil Abuse
NyQuil is a common over-the-counter medication that helps manage symptoms of fever, common cold, and other similar conditions and allergies. It is made and marketed by Vicks, a US pharmaceutical company. NyQuil provides short-term relief for headaches, coughing, stuffy and runny nose, fever, sore throat, and sneezing. It also helps those who have symptoms of cold sleep through the night. Although it provides relief from such symptoms, NyQuil is not a treatment for common colds or flu. NyQuil is generally considered a safe and effective medication for adults and children over six years of age.
NyQuil contains three active ingredients, known as acetaminophen, dextromethorphan (DMX), and doxylamine. Acetaminophen alleviates minor pain and reduces fever. Dextromethorphan helps suppress cough, while doxylamine (antihistamine) helps relieve congestion, sore throat, and sneezing. Although doxylamine induces sleep, it can also cause drowsiness during the daytime. NyQuil is intended only to be used as short-term relief and not as a cure for long-term health conditions. NyQuil is not a treatment for insomnia and should not be used as such.
Vicks also produces and markets DayQuil, a popular medication for patients seeking relief from cold symptoms without feeling drowsy on a working day. DayQuil relieves the same symptoms as NyQuil but contains ingredients such as acetaminophen, dextromethorphan, and phenylephrine, a non-drowsy nasal decongestant.
NyQuil Effects, Abuse, and Addiction
Teens, in particular, abuse NyQuil in large doses to get high. This is attributed to dextromethorphan (DMX), one of NyQuil’s active ingredient, which possesses the capacity to generate mind-altering effects. DMX is an active ingredient in over 70 medications, and it is not regulated as a controlled substance. In small doses, DMX only functions as a cough suppressant that does not pose a risk of significant side effects. Excessive amounts of DMX may induce hallucinations and euphoria similar to that of illicit mind-altering substances. Since DMX products are legal and do not require a prescription, some individuals use DMX as a simpler alternative to recreational drugs. In reality, more than 3 percent of American 12th graders have exploited NyQuil, DayQuil, and other DMX-based medications.
NyQuil misuse and abuse may cause the development of dependency. NyQuil is abused when consumed in large doses or when used for off label purposes such as treating chronic bronchitis, asthma, or when used for recreational purposes.
Patients who find it difficult to fall asleep without the use of NyQuil or when they experience withdrawal symptoms when trying to quit are signs of a NyQuil addiction. Physical withdrawal symptoms of NyQuil often characterize alcohol addiction, opioid addiction, and dangerous stimulants, such as cocaine and methamphetamine.
Symptoms of NyQuil withdrawal include:
- Cravings for NyQuil
- Shaking and tremors
- Stomach pain and nausea
NyQuil Side Effects and Dangers
The most common side-effects of NyQuil, if any, are mild that does not require medical treatment. NyQuil is not harmful if used correctly.
The side-effects of NyQuil may include:
- Dry mouth, nose, or throat
- Blurred vision
- Nausea and vomiting
- Nervousness and excitability
- Stomach pain
When NyQuil is abused for its DMX properties, the outcome can be severe. The effects of a heavy dose of DMX are similar to the effects of PCP, an illicit hallucinogen. DMX impairs judgment and co-ordination, which makes driving dangerous. The combination of a high dose of DMX along with alcohol, acetaminophen, or antidepressants can affect the liver and cause seizures, heart attacks, and, in certain cases, even death. Some individuals may also experience an allergic reaction to NyQuil. Symptoms of an allergic reaction to NyQuil may include:
- Trouble swallowing and breathing
- Swelling in the throat, lips, and face
The consumption of NyQuil in large doses for non-medical purposes can cause an overdose.
Symptoms of a NyQuil overdose may include:
- Loss of appetite
- Stomach and abdominal pain
- Extreme tiredness
- Yellowing eyes and skin
- Dark urine
How to Prevent NyQuil-Related Dangers
NyQuil is a relatively safe medication when consumed as directed by the label. Individuals who frequently consume NyQuil in large doses may experience a loss of consciousness or suffer from acetaminophen-related liver damage. Individuals should also refrain from consuming alcohol, antidepressants, and other acetaminophen-containing medications while taking NyQuil.
NyQuil Addiction Treatment
Patients with a NyQuil addiction will require medically assisted detoxification to help alleviate withdrawal symptoms and successfully complete the process. After the completion of detoxification, patients must then undergo treatment at an inpatient treatment center to help address the psychological dependence on NyQuil and learn positive coping mechanisms to avoid the use of the drug in the future. Inpatient treatment centers provide patients with counseling, therapies, and an introduction to support groups. They also educate their patients on healthy coping skills, relapse prevention techniques, and education on health and wellbeing. After the completion of an inpatient program, patients are highly advised to continue with treatment through an aftercare program to help maintain sobriety and prolong their recovery.