With around 3 million people between the ages of 12 and 25 have abused over-the-counter medications, such as cold and cough medicine. This is because is it cheap and readily available. Once a person is addiction, entry into a long term drug rehab program is needed to stop the abuse. Substance abuse rehabilitation teaches the addict how to adjust his or her behavior in order to maintain sobriety. Without drug rehab, the abuser will most likely not abstain from abuse, relapse back into drug use, and will ultimately increase the severity of their addiction.
The ingredient in these OTC medications is called Dextromethorphan, or DXM. The effects of DXM include loss of coordination, impaired judgement and mental functions, nausea, dizziness, hot flashed, hallucinations, brain damage, seizures and death. The number of calls to poison control centers for overdoses from DXM has increased every year because people are now taking these pills by the handful (see how many pills does it take to overdose).
One other interesting find was that incidences of overdosing and abuse show up in clusters. This is most likely due to word-of-mouth talk about using these drugs and almost every home has them on hand.