NyQuil is a popular over-the-counter medication that people take to address symptoms related to colds and the flu. Unfortunately, NyQuil addiction, although uncommon, can occur due to some of NyQuil’s sought-after effects.
People commonly use this medicine to relieve specific symptoms before they get worse, and it also helps them sleep better at night. There are three active ingredients in NyQuil—acetaminophen, dextromethorphan (DXM), and doxylamine. Acetaminophen reduces fever and relieves minor pain, DXM suppresses cough, and doxylamine is an antihistamine that alleviates congestion, sneezing, and sore throat.
Risks and Side Effects
Like most drugs, there can be adverse side effects associated with the use of NyQuil, depending on whether it is taken as directed or abused. It can be a dangerous drug when an individual takes it in ways other than intended. The most likely side effects include the following:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Blurry vision
- Abdominal pain
- Dizziness and lightheadedness
- Dry mouth, nose, or throat
- Nausea and vomiting
- Nervousness and excitability
Individuals who use NyQuil should only do so as directed because some of the more severe side effects come from ingesting excessive amounts of the drug or for purposes other than those intended by its manufacturer. For example, liver damage can occur from the overuse of acetaminophen.
Moreover, some people can become prone to losing consciousness if too much NyQuil is taken regularly. Others may suffer from allergic reactions, which usually onsets promptly, including hives, itching, difficulty swallowing, and swelling.
The abuse of NyQuil is not common, but it does occur, and some may develop some level of tolerance to it. Whether an individual takes too much or is not using it for legitimate medical purposes, the medication is only for short-term use. Some may take it to help with sleep, and others may use it for chronic conditions such as asthma, for which it is not intended. Yet others will use it recreationally or for non-medical reasons because they enjoy the feelings they experience when under its influence.
Some of the potentially addictive properties of NyQuil include the following:
- Alcohol content with some versions
- DXM can be hallucinogenic in high doses and induce side effects similar to more powerful dissociatives, such as ketamine
- Doxylamine succinate can cause seizures, hallucinations, and cardiorespiratory arrest
Some people may not tolerate NyQuil well for long periods. Still, others may find they can use it to merely improve sleep, then progress to addiction over time, and even find it serves as a gateway drug to the use of other substances such as alcohol. Using both this drug and alcohol can result in severe health consequences, including death. There is a risk to the liver when higher doses of the drug are used for an extended period.
Some people, especially teens, take excessive doses of NyQuil to “get high.” This is because DXM has mind-altering effects. In small doses, DXM works as a cough suppressant that does not pose any risk for significant side effects. Although DXM is not a controlled substance, it can affect the brain, and excessive amounts can induce hallucinations and euphoria.
DXM’s effects are similar to those of some illicit or prescription-only mind-altering substances. But, because medications that contain DXM are mostly legal and don’t require a doctor’s order, some people abuse DXM as a more easily obtainable alternative to recreational drugs. In fact, more than 3% of U.S. 12th graders report having abused NyQuil, DayQuil, and other DXM-based medications for the high experience. Abusing DXM is often referred to as “robo-tripping” or “skittling.”
As with any drug, there can be adverse consequences to abuse and prolonged use. Withdrawal symptoms may onset when trying to discontinue use after the body has become accustomed to the drug’s presence, which indicates some level of dependence. These may include the following:
- Drug cravings
- Stomach pain and nausea
- Shaking and tremors
Professional Treatment for Drug Abuse and Addiction
Just Believe Detox and Just Believe Recovery provide safe, supportive environments for individuals in a retreat-like environment. Our objective is to address all history of drug and alcohol use, including present use, and provide individuals with the recovery support they need.
Our professional staff is specially trained to develop individualized treatment programs comprised of a variety of evidence-based services and activities, including the following:
- Medical detox
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- Dual diagnosis
- Relapse prevention
- Art and music therapy
- Aftercare planning