Abuse Of Over-The-Counter Drugs: In Memory Of Heath Ledger

What are Over-the-Counter Drugs?

Over-the-counter (OTC) drugs are drugs that do not require a prescription and can simply be bought “over-the-counter”, as their name states. Although many people assume that no harm can come from abusing drugs for which a prescription is not needed, many health complications as well as addiction can take place. In some cases, death has been caused by over-the-counter drugs. In fact, actor Heath Ledger died as a result of an overdose of over-the-counter pills. There is still much debate over whether or not his death was accidental or suicide.

Addiction to over-the-counter drugs has occurred in a number of cases. In some instances, tolerance can be built up to an over-the-counter drug, and accidental addiction can take place. Accidental addiction is often very common among those who take prescription drugs. When high doses of OTC drugs are taken, hallucinations, bizarre sleep patterns, and mood changes take place.

OTC drugs are abused when the drug is taken past the recommended dosage. In some cases, snorting of these drugs occurs. If you abuse over-the-counter drugs, consider seeking drug rehab from a drug treatment center today. Abusing legal drugs can be a very hazardous crime. Therapists at drug rehab facilities can help you to identify any underlying causes of use and help secure a complete recovery.

Types of Over-the-Counter Drugs

Over-the-counter drugs come in many different shapes and sizes. They may come in liquid form (in the case of cough syrup) or as a pill. People choose over-the-counter drugs in an effort to achieve a certain goal. Some abuse these drugs to loose weight, others to create methamphetamine, and others to receive a certain sensation. The following are a few types of over-the-counter drugs which are available.

  • Sleep Assistants – Brand names include Excedrin PM, Ambien, Dalmane, Sominex, Sonata, Restoril, and Tylenol PM. These drugs may be harmful in excess as they can cause problems with sleep habits, weaken areas of the body, or create the condition narcolepsy (this condition causes an uncontrollable, unpredictable desire to sleep).
  • Cold medicines (cough syrups and tablets) – Brand names of these OTC drugs include Robitussin, Vicks, Coricidin, and Nyquil. Up to 125 different types of cold medicines contain the popular drug dextromethorphan (DXM). Although this drug is not harmful in small amounts, when taken in excess it can cause a stomach ache, hallucinations, numbness, and confusion. Street names for this drug include Skittles, Dex, Tussin, Vitamin D, and Robo. Today, a wide variety of information regarding DXM abuse can be located online. This makes abuse much easier for young teens.
  • Aspirin
  • Diet pills – Diet pills are abused by a number of teens. Some teens use them as a way of getting high. Other people use these drugs in an attempt to lose weight. A number of people who use these diet pills have some form of an eating disorder. In these cases, both treatment at a drug rehab facility and an eating disorder treatment center may be necessary for full recovery.
  • Motion sickness drugs – One brand name for over-the-counter motion sickness drugs is Dramamine. These drugs have been known to cause hallucinations.

In some areas, people who attempt to buy products containing the drug DXM can buy no more than a certain amount. Other stores have proceeded to change the location of certain over-the-counter drugs containing pseudoephedrine so that they cannot be obtained without the help of an employee. Pseudophedrine is known to be used in the making of methamphetamine. According to United States law, identification must be requested and recorded upon purchase of any products containing this drug.

The actor Heath Ledger died as a result of taking too many sleeping pills. Do not allow yourself to become addicted to OTC drugs and suffer the same fate. Seek drug treatment at a drug rehab facility before serious health complications are developed. California drug treatment centers and inpatient drug treatment facilities across the country desire to help those suffering from drug addiction and abuse. Enroll in one of their programs and allow yourself to experience full recovery today.


This blog is for informational purposes only and should not be a substitute for medical advice. We understand that everyone’s situation is unique, and this content is to provide an overall understanding of substance use disorders. These disorders are very complex, and this post does not take into account the unique circumstances for every individual. For specific questions about your health needs or that of a loved one, seek the help of a healthcare professional.