Over-the-Counter (OTC) Drugs - info-hero

Over-the-Counter (OTC) Drugs


Over-the-counter (OTC) drugs are substances that are considered to have a low enough risk for abuse or misuse that they are available for purchase without a prescription. Many OTC drugs are used for at-home treatment of minor medical conditions, such as the common cold, skin irritations, aches and pains, congestion, and many others. Another use for OTC drugs are patches, gums, sprays, and lozenges used to help a person stop nicotine use. As implied by the name, over-the-counter drugs are commonly found in pharmacies, gas stations, grocery stores, airports, and just about anywhere that a consumer can purchase products. While OTC drugs do provide many valuable benefits when used according to medical guidelines, some of these drugs may be abused and lead to some serious side effects.

Commonly Abused Over the Counter (OTC) Drugs

Cotinine (Nicotine)

Cotinine is the product produced by the body when nicotine enters its system, so the presence of cotinine in a drug test can indicate recent nicotine use. Many harmful health risks are associated with nicotine use, which can also affect nearby individuals depending on how it is used.

OTC Antihistamines (Cough Medicine)

OTC antihistamines are drugs used to treat allergy symptoms, bug bites, skin irritations, colds, and sometimes anxiety. Some of these drugs, specifically DPH or diphenhydramine, are increasingly abused due to the euphoric effects that they may create. The “Benadryl Challenge” that went viral on social media triggered an influx of DPH abuse among teens, which led to a public statement from the Food & Drug Administration warning about the risks of excessive Benadryl use.

OTC Appetite Suppressants

OTC appetite suppressants are intended to be used in combination with exercise and healthy eating for short-term use in accelerating weight loss. Phentermine is a commonly known appetite suppressant, which has the potential for dependence by people who abuse it in order to increase their energy or happiness. Side effects of OTC appetite suppressant abuse can be serious.