Common Addictive Substances that Can Harm Your Health

Not all addictive substances are illegal and addiction doesn’t always require a stint in treatment to get off what you’re using – depending on what you’re using. Surprisingly, over-the-counter (OTC) substances found at local drug, grocery and convenience stores can get you hooked. They activate the addiction center in the brain like a light bulb. Items containing caffeine, cough syrup or nicotine are widely used by many people daily and are usually not considered to have dangerous potential. In fact, these substances are drugs that are addictive and can easily put children at risk for a hospital visit.

Consider some basic information:


Four cups of coffee, or about 400-milligrams of caffeine, is safe for most healthy adults, but excess amounts of more than 500-milligrams per day can result in insomnia, accelerated heart rate, and anxiety. The same is true of high potency energy drinks, some teas and sodas. Caffeine is also the world’s most popular psychoactive drug. Withdrawal symptoms, such as mental fogginess, lack of alertness, muscle fatigue, and irritability, begin within 24 hours of abstaining. Individuals should use sparingly and children not at all.

Cough Syrup

Cough syrup suppressants sold OTC contain dextromethorphan, which can be addictive in high dosages. Young people looking for an accessible high usually abuse these syrups, but all ages are at risk of dependency with overuse. Typically, prescription cough syrup contains codeine, which is an opioid and addictive in the same way as other opioid painkillers, but also has some psychedelic properties. Young children are at risk of accidental over-medicating and can need hospitalization after misuse or abuse.


One of the most accessible, addictive legal drugs is found readily everywhere across the nation for sale – nicotine. There is no question that smoking, dipping or chewing is addictive and damaging a person’s health. Products include cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco, dip and e-cigarettes. E-cigs vaporize a concentrated liquid nicotine and is a popular temptation for young people. Children are at risk for accidental poisoning by ingestion of nicotine. Remember, nicotine is sometimes used as a pesticide; it’s not a benign substance.

Approach life with the intention to minimize health risks associated with common addictive substances. Discuss personal questions or ask for more information from your doctor. Lead the healthiest life you can.

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