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Over the Counter Medicine Study Uncovers Addiction Prevalence In UK

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Addicts can become dependent on just about any particular substance, including over the counter medicine.  The disease of addiction can manifest itself in different forms and when it comes to substances, a drug is a drug.  Niamh Fingleton, who studies in Academic Primary Care at the University of Aberdeen, teamed up with researchers from the school to conduct the first ever study in the United Kingdom that evaluated how common it is for people to be addicted to non prescription medicines.

Understanding Addiction to Over the Counter Medicine

“No one has ever looked at the prevalence of addiction to over the counter medicine in the general population before,” explained Fingleton.  According to the study, Fingleton and her team questioned 972 people about their particular use with over the counter medicines, which included paracetamol, ibuprofen, codeine, other over the counter painkillers, and smoking cessation items.  Out of the amount interviewed, 2% responded that they presently are or have once in the past felt addicted to these non prescription medicines.  One person included in their response that they had to be admitted to a hospital after their stomach eroded from excessive consumption of ibuprofen.  Fingleton pointed out that more than 50% of all participants in the study reached out to seek help for their over the counter medicine addiction.  She expressed her belief as to why not all addicts sought help, “People who are addicted to these types of medicines may not seek help for many reasons – perhaps they are unaware of the potential dangers associated with these products because they are available without a prescription or don’t know where to seek help from. Others may not want to approach services which usually treat people who are addicted to illegal drugs.”

Effects of Over the Counter Medicine Abuse

Fingleton went into detail about the dangers and risks that abuse of over the counter medicine posed, “Long-term continual use of some of these products can have physical and psychological consequences such as liver and kidney damage.”  An addiction to over the counter medicine is serious because not only can the effects be irreversible and severely detrimental to the body, but the medicines abused can be obtained without prescriptions.  This means that anybody at almost any age can purchase them.  Young children, teenagers, and young adults especially are among the first to get hooked to these types of drugs because it begins with abuse of them since they are easily accessible substances.  Because of this, these age groups are in the high risk category for over the counter medicine abuse.  Another potential risk of continuous non prescription medicine abuse and addiction is that it could lead to the abuse of other serious drugs and an addiction to those substances as well. The National Institute on Drug Abuse has stated that, aside from marijuana, over the counter medicine is the most frequently abused of substances by teenagers that are 14 years of age and older.

The next part of Fingleton’s study will focus on a more in depth look into why some individuals who claimed to be addicted to over the counter medicine reached out for help and others did not.  This will help get better treatment options that are specific to treating over the counter medicine addictions and allow people in the professional field to get a better understanding of how to be more approachable when it comes to the certain type of addiction.  Fingleton went on to point out, “It’s important that we understand what helps and hinders people to seek treatment so that seeking help is easier for others in the future.”

Do you find yourself abusing over the counter medicine and unable to stop?  Contact The Watershed today because recovering from an addiction is possible and you owe it to yourself to put in the effort to attain a new life.




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