Cough syrup is a cheap and readily available substance that is open to addiction use. Most of us use cough syrup for our tickly or sore throats during cold and flu seasons. However, long-term use can sometimes create tolerance and addiction to the syrup.

So what exactly is cough syrup, and what can make it dangerous to your health? Cough syrup with dextromethorphan (DXM) or similar opioid-containing substances can be toxic when overused and create many health problems.  In addition to DXM, you will also find codeine, dihydrocodeine or diphenhydramine within the syrup, which sometimes has a very high potential for addiction. These are known as opioids and can be very dangerous.

Cough syrups are usually innocent, but abuse will lead to addiction to any substance. The substance may be taken on its own or as part of a cocktail mixed with alcohol and other substances. Whilst it is impossible to combat the issue head-on, personal cases can be addressed, and drug rehabilitation is possible.

Cough Syrup Addiction and Abuse Explained

The risks of abuse are many with any substance that is not meant for long-term use. There is a type of temptation that arises from the feelings of taking cough syrup that go far beyond the limiting alleviation of throat issues. This is due to DXM and how it interacts with your brain chemistry. Some people break down dextromethorphan very slowly, and some may react extremely sensitively and quickly to substances containing codeine. That means that only minor abuse of this drug could lead to overdose.

You may have become inadvertently addicted to cough syrups, or you may take them purposefully for the effects of the drug. Either way, you will need a professional evaluation and assessment to find the best forms of treatment for you.

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Signs and Symptoms of Abuse

There are many short and long-term side effects of cough syrup abuse, which translate into signs and symptoms. Awareness of the first psychological signs is important because this is often when major problems have already begun. These psychological signs may manifest as

  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Financial issues
  • Personality changes

You may become angry, constantly find ways to fund your drug addiction, have relationship issues, and your home life may suffer.

Some of the short-term effects to be aware of are:

  • Euphoria
  • Hallucinations
  • Out-of-body sensations
  • Blurred vision
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Pain
  • Irregular heart rhythms
  • Nausea

The long-term effects of abuse may cause:

  • Schizophrenia
  • Depression
  • Permanent heart damage
  • Organ failure
  • Impaired memory.

All of the above will contribute to a very poor prognosis and lifestyle. Without correct help, you may feel unable to lead a normal life. Thankfully, there is help available to you in many forms.

What Treatment Options are Available?

Treatment options are available for all types of addiction. The most successful route is rehabilitation, specifically private drug and alcohol rehab. Private rehab or inpatient rehab is a safe haven with medical personnel and a multidisciplinary team to facilitate your rehab in a luxurious and comfortable atmosphere. We appreciate that addiction has to be banished and to do this, the substance user must collaborate with us.

When you are struggling with addiction, there are often many factors involved. Therefore, you must constantly resist the social or environmental stimuli associated with this euphoric high. You will have to completely reshape your life to remove the behavioural tendencies that have led to addiction. That is exactly what rehab assists you with; it seeks to change these behaviours and addictive patterns whilst cleansing the body and mind. The physical and mental improvements are seen almost immediately.

You will have access to a full rehab programme that begins with drug detox, followed by psychotherapies and counselling and finally, an aftercare programme to ensure that there are no relapses. We believe that relapse is preventable, and you are most likely to succeed with the right tools and support network. At the Ocean Recovery Centre, we are dedicated to ensuring your recovery is successful. We are by your side in the times that matter.

What is the Detoxing Process

A detox is simply removing the toxins from the body slowly and methodically. This process is undertaken in a medical environment with a full medical team who can mitigate withdrawal symptoms and make you feel comfortable. The duration of the detoxification depends on the substance or combination of substances and the physical dependence. As standard, however, detox usually takes 7 days to complete.

This process gives immediate relief from many symptoms. You will feel physically better, and your mind will be clearer. This is the most important step because it allows you to step outside of the addiction for the first time, focusing on the next treatment phase. Psychotherapies such as CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) and counselling sessions are favourable and have very high success rates.

How We Can Help

Addiction does not have to be a lifelong problem and should not prohibit you from leading a normal life. However, addiction does affect almost all areas of your life before you seek help. When you open up to the issue and speak to a team of professionals, you can learn valuable tools and access stellar support systems that will give your life back.

A clean mind and body is the best environment for success in all areas of your life. Take control back, and let us help you find the path. Call us today on 0800 880 7596.

John Gillen - Author - Last updated: December 22, 2023

John is one UK’s leading professionals in the addiction recovery industry. Pioneering new treatment techniques such as NAD+ and ongoing research into new therapy techniques such as systematic laser therapy, John is committed to providing the very best treatment for people throughout the UK and Europe. During his extremely busy schedule, John likes to regularly update our blog section with the latest news and trends in the industry to keep visitors to our site as well informed as possible on everything related to addiction treatment.

Dr Adel Ghaly

    Dr Adel Ghaly - Clinical Reviewer - Last reviewed: October 26, 2023

    MB BCh, Psychological Medicine (Substance Misuse Psychiatry) from 2002

    Dr Adel Ghaly is a registered Doctor who is a specialist psychiatrist. Dr Ghaly gained an MB BCh in 1982 from Assiut University and has since become a substance misuse specialist and psychiatrist. After gaining his qualification in Psychological Medicine (Substance Misuse Psychiatry) in 2002, Dr Ghaly has worked in hospitals and as a specialist trainer recognised by the GMC.