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NyQuil addiction: signs, symptoms, risk factors, and treatments

Reading time: 20 mins
NyQuil addiction signs, symptoms, risk factors, and treatments

NyQuil addiction is the continuous use of this medication despite the problems and consequences it can cause. NyQuil is a medication that treats the common cold and flu. This type of addiction is mainly present among adolescents because NyQuil is easily accessible.

Symptoms of NyQuil addiction include compulsive use, dependence, withdrawal symptoms, neglecting responsibilities, behavioral changes, continued use despite negative consequences, social withdrawal, physical symptoms, preoccupation with NyQuil, and increased tolerance.

Causes of NyQuil addiction include genetics, dextromethorphan (main ingredient of NyQuil, a mind altering substance), mental illness, using NyQuil as a replacement for illegal drugs, using too much NyQuil to manage sleeping problems, and peer pressure.

NyQuil addiction treatments include detox, inpatient program, and outpatient treatment. Healthcare professionals may prescribe medications for mental health problems or symptoms such as psychosis. Psychotherapy, especially cognitive-behavioral therapy, plays an important role in the treatment of addiction to NyQuil. Support groups are beneficial for successful recovery too.

What is NyQuil addiction?

NyQuil addiction is a compulsive need to keep taking NyQuil regardless of the consequences that occur or problems it causes. NyQuil is an over-the-counter (OTC) medication formulated specifically to treat symptoms of cold and flu. There are different types of NyQuil, and the main ingredients are almost the same for all of them. These include a combination of acetaminophen (paracetamol, for fever), doxylamine (antihistamine), and dextromethorphan (a cough suppressant). Plus, NyQuil Liquid contains 10% alcohol.

NyQuil addiction is not included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) by the American Psychiatric Association. However, dextromethorphan (DXM) is classified as a dissociative general anesthetic and hallucinogen when taken in high doses, similar to controlled substances such as phencyclidine (PCP) and ketamine. Addiction to hallucinogens is included in DSM-5.

Until recently, dextromethorphan was classified as a synthetic opioid because it has a similar structure to another opioid called codeine, according to a paper that J. Mutschler et al. published in the July 2010 issue of Deutsches Ärzteblatt International.

NyQuil has been around for decades; it was made by Vicks and introduced to the market in 1966.

Not much is known about the history of NyQuil addiction and when it started, but it has become a problem in the United States. This is best depicted by the fact that in 2018, lawmakers in the state of Wisconsin passed a bill that would require minors to have a prescription and show ID before purchasing cough medicine, particularly NyQuil and Robitussin.

What is the other term for NyQuil addiction?

The other term for NyQuil addiction is Robitussin addiction, which is a medication that contains dextromethorphan too. There are no synonyms for NyQuil addiction precisely, but this type of substance abuse can be called after different medications or brands that people take and the abovementioned Robitussin is the best example. The practice of using cough or cold medicines for recreational purposes is called robotripping (after Robitussin).

It is also important to mention street terms for dextromethorphan, the main ingredient in NyQuil. These terms include skittles, red devil, velvet, rojo, DM, vitamin D, tussin, robo, CCC, triple C, and poor man’s PCP.

What is NyQuil commonly used for?

NyQuil is commonly used for the treatment of nighttime symptoms of flu and common cold such as sore throat, headache, cough, sneezing, runny nose, fever, and minor aches and pains, as per the Vicks website. The website states that adults and children 12 years of age or older can take NyQuil and the recommended intake is every six hours. According to Statista, Vicks sold around 18.3 million units in the U.S. in 2019. Keep in mind this is just general information and doesn’t imply that all units were associated with substance abuse.

Statistics-related information about NyQuil addiction and its prevalence is scarce. However, according to “Monitoring the Future National Survey Results on Drug Use, 1975-2022: Secondary School Students” by the National Institute on Drug Abuse in the state of Michigan prevalence of DXM abuse (main ingredient in NyQuil) was around 3% among 8th-graders. That means the percentage of adolescents using products with DXM to get high could be even larger on a national level, but more research on this subject is necessary. In 2021, 1.7% of 12th-graders and 2.7% of 10th-graders used OTC cough and cold medicines in the past year.

Back in 2006, approximately 3.1 million people in the U.S. aged 12 to 25 years reported using OTC cough and cold medicine to get “high”, reported S.H.F. Lam et al. in their paper from the June 2021 issue of the Journal of the American College of Emergency Physicians Open.

In their study from the June 2011 issue of Clinical Toxicology, M.D. Wilson et al. recorded 44,206 cases of DXM abuse when they collected data between 2000 and 2010 from the U.S. poison centers. Of these, 34,755 cases were single-substance exposures. The annual prevalence of dextromethorphan cases was 13.4 per million population across all age groups. The prevalence of DXM abuse among 15-to-19-year-olds was 113.0 cases per million. This suggests that medicines containing DXM are primarily misused by adolescents. The prevalence rates of DXM abuse increased steadily for all age groups and in 2006 they reached 17.6 cases per million. The same study reported the prevalence of DXM abuse was higher in males.

How does NyQuil addiction develop?

a woman having cold

NyQuil addiction develops due to several causes, which are listed below.

  • Contains dextromethorphan: NyQuil contains several ingredients including dextromethorphan, which has mind-altering properties. In small doses, this ingredient is safe and doesn’t cause mind-altering effects, but when consumed repeatedly in high amounts, DXM acts on the brain. People who abuse this medication can experience euphoria and hallucinations. When taken in excessively high doses (e.g. over 1500 mg per day), dextromethorphan can lead to psychosis characterized by delusions, paranoia, and hallucinations, according to a paper by B. Martinak et al. in the September 2017 issue of Psychopharmacology Bulletin. In their study from the July 2010 issue of Deutsches Ärzteblatt International, J. Mutschler et al. confirmed that dextromethorphan is a psychotropic substance with the potential for abuse and dependence. DXM can trigger the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that regulates the reward system in the brain, which is deeply implicated in the development of addiction.
  • Alternative to illegal drugs: adolescents or young adults may use excessive amounts of NyQuil as a replacement for illegal substances. NyQuil is legal and easily accessible to everyone. That way, adolescents and young adults can experience the mild-altering effects without having to plan where to obtain illicit drugs.
  • Trouble sleeping: people who experience sleep-related problems such as insomnia may take NyQuil to get some rest at night. As they take NyQuil too much and too frequently to fall asleep, they risk developing addiction to this medicine.
  • Genetics: people can have a genetic predisposition to substance abuse. According to the post titled “Genetics and Epigenetics of Addiction DrugFacts” on the website of the National Institute of Drug Abuse, as much as half of a person’s risk for substance abuse depends on their genetics. A person may inherit specific genes or gene variations that make them more susceptible to developing a substance abuse problem. For example, a child inherits certain genes or genetic mutations from their parent. Genetic predisposition in combination with other factors like trouble sleeping or peer pressure plays a role in the person’s likelihood of using too much NyQuil and becoming addicted to it.
  • Mental illness: NyQuil is mostly used by adolescents because they get easy access to this medication. Mental illnesses are common among children and adolescents. Adolescents with depression are more prone to substance use, according to a paper that M. Mason et al. published in the June 2019 issue of the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology. Mental illnesses such as depression are also common among adults and increase their risk of substance use. A person with depression may turn to NyQuil and the “high” effects it produces to cope with the symptoms and emotions they experience.
  • Peer pressure: a person may feel pressure from their social circle to use NyQuil in excessively high amounts. For instance, an adolescent may feel the only way to be accepted by their peers is to engage in the same behaviors. One of these behaviors is NyQuil use. By engaging in recreational NyQuil use, they hope to impress their peers, but it paves the way to addiction.

What are the signs of NyQuil addiction?

The signs of NyQuil addiction are listed below.

  • Using NyQuil when not sick: the use of this medicine when a person doesn’t have a common cold or flu.
  • Hiding NyQuil use: putting a lot of effort into hiding the use of this medication. Family or friends often notice strange behaviors such as buying NyQuil regularly, but the affected person becomes argumentative hoping to conceal the misuse of NyQuil.
  • Appearing intoxicated, but not smelling of alcohol: a person with NyQuil addiction may look intoxicated or high, but they don’t smell of alcohol or drugs such as cannabis.
  • Dissociative-like experiences: happens because NyQuil contains dextromethorphan, which acts in a similar manner as hallucinogens such as phencyclidine (PCP). Compounds with hallucinogenic effects can distort the perception of reality and produce feelings of dissociation or detachment from the environment. For that reason, a person addicted to NyQuil may experience hallucinations and delusions.

What are the symptoms of NyQuil addiction?

The symptoms of NyQuil addiction are listed below.

  • Compulsive use
  • Dependence
  • Withdrawal symptoms
  • Neglecting responsibilities
  • Behavioral changes
  • Continued use despite negative consequences
  • Social withdrawal
  • Physical symptoms
  • Preoccupation with NyQuil
  • Increased tolerance

1. Compulsive use

Compulsive use is a pattern of substance use that is difficult to regulate and indicated by loss of control over the intake. Drug craving is a major contributor to the compulsive use of a substance, according to a paper by S.T. Tiffany and B.L. Carter in the January 1998 issue of the Journal of Psychopharmacology. Compulsive use is characterized by the strong urge to keep using a specific substance or medication (in this case NyQuil) despite the problems it causes and even if a person wants to stop.

Compulsive use becomes a symptom of NyQuil addiction because the excessive and repeated intake of this cough and cold medication acts on the brain, especially the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine controls the brain’s reward system. When a person is using the drug, they experience pleasurable effects due to dopamine production. These effects aren’t permanent. However, a person is motivated to keep using more of the drug to feel the same effects. When that happens, they get into a vicious circle of compulsive use that is difficult to break.

2. Dependence

Dependence is a perceived inability to function without a specific substance. Drug dependence is a chronic and progressive disease indicated by a major impairment in psychological, physical, and social functioning and is directly linked to persistent and excessive use of a substance, according to a review by K. Miyasato in the August 2010 issue of Nihon Rinsho, Japanese Journal of Clinical Medicine.

Dependence becomes a symptom of NyQuil addiction because dextromethorphan carries the potential for abuse and dependence. Similar to other hallucinogens and addictive substances, DXM acts on the brain’s reward system and increases the release of dopamine. According to a case report that S.C. Miller published in the December 2005 issue of Addiction Biology, the active metabolite of dextromethorphan called dextrorphan (DOR) is responsible for many psychiatric effects of this substance. The use of NyQuil for recreational purposes creates a chain of reactions that involve tolerance and dependence, as hallmark signs of addiction.

3. Withdrawal symptoms

Withdrawal symptoms are physical and psychological effects that occur when a person stops taking substances or medications including NyQuil. Withdrawal symptoms become a symptom of NyQuil addiction because the brain and body are trying to adapt to the absence of the medication from the system.

Abrupt cessation of intake of NyQuil can act as a shock to the brain and body thereby causing withdrawal symptoms. All this happens due to the presence of dextromethorphan and its metabolite dextrorphan. The abovementioned paper by S.C. Miller in Addiction Biology confirmed withdrawal from dextromethorphan is evident. The main ingredient of NyQuil, DXM, can cross the blood-brain barrier meaning the absence of this compound from the body will result in strong reactions and changes in levels of neurotransmitters. When an addicted person stops taking the medication, they are susceptible to withdrawal symptoms.

4. Neglecting responsibilities

Neglecting responsibilities is indifference, inability, or unwillingness to perform specific work or duties. People may neglect the responsibilities they have at home or school and work. Causes behind neglecting responsibilities range from laziness to fear of failure, stress, mental illnesses, and substance use disorders. NyQuil addiction can be one of the reasons people neglect their responsibilities.

Neglecting responsibilities becomes a symptom of NyQuil addiction because the excessive and repeated use of NyQuil increases exposure to DXM, which can act on the brain and change how it works. Since dextromethorphan is a type of hallucinogen, it can alter an individual’s perception of reality and the environment. As a result, priorities may shift. Hallucinations and delusions may take away the focus from a person’s responsibilities thereby leading to failed tasks, poor performance, and inability or lack of desire to engage in day-to-day chores. To a person with addiction, the drug of choice (in this case NyQuil) becomes the priority as they are entirely concentrated on achieving the “high” effect.

5. Behavioral changes

Behavioral changes refer to any change in a person’s behavior. The changes in behavior may develop spontaneously or involuntarily, but they can also be systematic or motivated by conditioning, as per Psychology Dictionary.

Behavioral changes become a symptom of NyQuil addiction because the addictive substance, the ingredient in NyQuil, changes the way a person functions. Since the excessive and repeated use of dextromethorphan acts on the brain, it changes how it works and alters a perception of reality and the environment. A person’s behavior changes as well. Addiction changes behavior in several ways. Prolonged exposure to a habit-forming substance can impair the balance of neurotransmitters in the brain. Neurotransmitters such as dopamine regulate behavior. Dopamine motivates a person to take a certain action. Addiction to NyQuil may change a person’s behavior by making them lose interest in activities they once enjoyed. They may go to great lengths to avoid people and activities they liked before addiction. Secretive behavior, depressive symptoms, emotional distress, and changes in social circle are also the reasons addiction can change a person’s behavior.

6. Continued use despite negative consequences

Continued use despite negative consequences is the repeated use of a substance such as alcohol, drug, or medication even when a person is aware of problems and consequences it causes. It is one of the telltale signs of substance use disorders.

Continued use despite negative consequences becomes a symptom of NyQuil addiction due to the influence of DXM on dopamine and the reward system in the brain. Repeated and excessive use of dextromethorphan increases the release of dopamine thereby producing the high effect and pleasurable feelings. When these effects go away, a person wants to experience them again. The desire to experience those effects is stronger than the awareness of problems it causes. For that reason, a person with NyQuil addiction may continue using the drug even when they know that behavior is not good for them.

7. Social withdrawal

Social withdrawal is the avoidance of social interactions and events or refusing to engage with people at a social gathering. Causes of social withdrawal are numerous including anxiety, depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia, and substance use disorders.

The social withdrawal becomes a symptom of NyQuil addiction because the ingredient in this medication can have a negative effect on mental health. Substance use disorders are associated with feelings of loneliness, as per a paper by M. Hosseinbor et al. in the September 2014 issue of the International Journal of High Risk Behaviors and Addiction. Moreover, the main ingredient in NyQuil, DXM, can contribute to depressive symptoms. Social withdrawal or isolation is one of the hallmark symptoms of depression, according to a paper that T. Elmer and C. Stadtfeld published in the January 2020 issue of Scientific Reports. A person with NyQuil addiction may attempt to hide they use this medication by avoiding their friends and family.

8. Physical symptoms

Physical symptoms are the effects of addiction on the body and physical health of an individual.

Physical symptoms become a symptom of NyQuil addiction because excessive and repeated use of medications can have a negative impact on the body and cause health problems. People who take NyQuil excessively may experience problems such as drowsiness and dizziness, their vision may be blurry, or they may complain about stomach problems. Excessive use of the medication can lead to serious physical problems including liver damage due to acetaminophen, yet another ingredient in NyQuil. According to LiverTox: Clinical and Research Information on Drug-Induced Liver Injury on the website of the National Library of Medicine, last updated in January 2016, acetaminophen has a hepatotoxic potential and may even cause acute liver injury and death. Physical symptoms of addiction may also include dilated pupils, changes in sleep patterns, lack of personal hygiene and unkempt appearance, and problems with coordination.

9. Preoccupation with NyQuil

Preoccupation with NyQuil refers to spending a lot of time planning NyQuil use, using the medication, and recovering from its effects. It also involves spending a lot of money on buying the medication.

Preoccupation with NyQuil becomes a symptom of NyQuil addiction because the process of using and obtaining the drug of choice is the integral component of a substance use disorder. In order to keep experiencing the same pleasurable effects, a person with NyQuil addiction needs to buy a lot of units of medication, plan when to use it, and recover from the effects of the excessive use of the drug. All this requires time and effort. The substance of abuse, in this case, the medication NyQuil, takes over the main role in a person’s life.

10. Increased tolerance

Increased tolerance refers to the body getting used to the medication. When that happens, the current dosage is not enough and it is necessary to increase it in order to experience the same effects.

Increased tolerance becomes a symptom of NyQuil addiction because excessive and repeated use of the medication no longer works on the body and the current dosage or amount isn’t effective anymore. That means it won’t produce the desired, pleasurable effects. The impact of DXM on the brain could be a reason behind increased tolerance. With continuous and excessive exposure, dopamine receptors are no longer sensitive to the substance. That means a person has become tolerant to the medication and higher doses are necessary to have the same experience as before. Tolerance leads to dependence and addiction. It is also a symptom of addiction as it demonstrates how excessive the use of this medication has become. According to a December 2020 post by Carly Vandergriendt on Healthline, tolerance to doxylamine, one of the ingredients of NyQuil, builds quite fast. That means the sedative effects aren’t strong anymore so a higher intake of NyQuil is needed to have the same sedating experience.

In their case report from the July 2019 issue of the Journal of Medical Toxicology, T.D. Olives et al. reported about a man with long-term use of dextromethorphan who developed tolerance to this ingredient. Tolerance correlated with consistent abuse and dose escalation.

What are the withdrawal symptoms associated with NyQuil addiction?

a woman holding her hand on her brows

The withdrawal symptoms associated with NyQuil addiction are listed below.

  • Strong cravings for NyQuil: it happens because the brain tricks a person into thinking they can’t function without the specific substance or medication.
  • Anxiety: withdrawal from NyQuil is stressful and may be mentally challenging, which may pave the way to anxiety.
  • Depression: occurs due to an imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain resulting from abrupt cessation of medication use.
  • Shaking and tremors: withdrawal sets the brain into overdrive, which may result in shaking and tremors.
  • Nausea and/or vomiting: the brain and body need to adapt to the absence of the medication, which increases stress levels. Increased stress means levels of cortisol are high too. A person also becomes more sensitive. This can lead to gastrointestinal problems and nausea and vomiting.
  • Stomach pain: as the body adapts to the lack of the drug of use (NyQuil), people may experience problems such as stomach pain, especially in combination with nausea and vomiting.
  • Restlessness and moodiness: changes in levels of neurotransmitters can lead to mood swings and restlessness.
  • Insomnia: occurs due to brain hyperactivity caused by sudden cessation of substance/medication use.
  • Chills: going through withdrawal causes changes in the body temperature, which could explain chills.
  • Excessive sweating: occurs due to higher cortisol levels and changes in the body temperature.

How does NyQuil addiction impact mental health?

NyQuil addiction impacts mental health through an imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain and the potential to induce symptoms of psychosis. The use of this medication can trigger the release of higher amounts of dopamine, which can make a person more competitive or reduce their impulse control. Excessive stimulation of dopamine receptors can contribute to psychosis, according to a paper that H. Tost et al. published in the April 2010 issue of Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews. Since NyQuil contains dextromethorphan, known for its hallucinogenic effects, people addicted to this medication could develop psychosis.

NyQuil addiction may affect mental health by causing depression. While more research is necessary, dextromethorphan may increase depression-like behaviors but these effects could be gender-dependent and affect males primarily, according to a study that O. Meashack Ijomone and I. Joachim Biose published in the July 2019 issue of Basic and Clinical Neuroscience.

NyQuil addiction can make a person feel more irritable and anxious due to its influence on the brain. Addiction itself affects mental health by worsening the existing mental illnesses and symptoms. Also, it causes changes in how the brain works, which can affect how people feel, behave, and process or cope with their emotions.

Can NyQuil addiction lead to abuse of other substances?

Yes, NyQuil addiction can lead to abuse of other substances because it acts as a gateway drug. There is not much research on this subject. However, in May 2019, Texas joined 18 other states that passed laws that outlaw minors from buying OTC cough and cold medicines like NyQuil and Robitussin, The Texas Tribune reported. After the bill was signed, state representative Garnet Coleman stated he hopes the new law will prevent adolescents from using this medicine as a gateway drug.

Once a person realizes their current intake of NyQuil isn’t producing the effects they want, they could move on to substances that give stronger effects. This increases the risk of drug abuse and addiction to it.

Can NyQuil addiction lead to overdose?

Yes, NyQuil addiction can lead to overdose. Excessive and repeated intake increases the risk of overdose, especially if a person takes the medication with alcohol. Symptoms of NyQuil-related overdose include nausea, vomiting, sweating, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, agitation, extreme tiredness, hallucinations, flushing, confusion, dark urine, seizures, and yellowing of eyes and skin according to “NyQuil Liquid – Uses, Side Effects, and More” on WebMD. The most serious symptoms of overdose include passing out and difficulty breathing.

What are the long-term effects of NyQuil addiction?

The long-term effects of NyQuil addiction are physical and psychological problems. A good example is liver damage, which can result from excessive intake of acetaminophen. Dextromethorphan can also cause liver problems and contribute to autoimmune hepatitis, according to a case report by A. Kumar et al. in the October 2015 issue of The American Journal of Gastroenterology.

Other long-term health problems of NyQuil addiction include kidney damage and weaker memory. Acetaminophen in NyQuil could be the reason for a higher risk of kidney damage. A paper by S. Kanchanasurakit et al. in the March 2020 issue of Kidney Research and Clinical Practice showed that acetaminophen is strongly associated with the risk of renal impairment.

Mental health problems such as depressive symptoms are also long-term effects of NyQuil addiction.

What are the risk factors for NyQuil addiction?

Risk factors for NyQuil addiction are listed below.

  • Being an adolescent or young adult
  • Male gender
  • Risk-taking personality
  • Socializing with people who use NyQuil recreationally
  • Misconception of safety i.e. believing NyQuil is safer than illicit street drugs
  • Easy access to NyQuil
  • Personal history of substance abuse
  • Having a mental illness
  • Family history of substance abuse or addiction
  • Insufficient or inadequate parental monitoring
  • Growing up or living in a dysfunctional household
  • Low academic achievement
  • History of trauma
  • Tendency to look for “cheap” high

Where can you seek NyQuil addiction diagnosis?

You can seek NyQuil addiction diagnosis in places that are listed below.

  • Rehabilitation (rehab) centers for substance use disorders
  • Hospitals
  • Clinics
  • Non-profit organizations that provide help to teens and adults with substance abuse problems

What are the treatments available for NyQuil addiction?

The treatments available for NyQuil addiction are listed below.

  • Detoxification (detox): the first step in the treatment of addiction; refers to the abrupt cessation of use of the medication or drug of choice. During detox, withdrawal symptoms may occur, which is why it should be performed under medical supervision. The withdrawal symptoms tend to begin within a few hours after the last use of the medication, but they peak within the first two to three days. The duration of detox is different for everyone as it depends on the severity of the addiction, but the whole process may last a week or longer.
  • Inpatient program: also called residential treatment for addiction, it is a structured treatment protocol that requires patients to live in a rehab facility throughout the duration of the program. Duration depends on the severity of the addiction, but usually lasts 30, 60, or 90 days. Inpatient programs are primarily useful for patients with moderate to severe symptoms of addiction. In this program, patients receive support and guidance to achieve and maintain their sobriety. They attend individual and group therapy sessions, educational classes, or workshops, and learn skills that help them cope with negative influences in their day-to-day life. The cornerstone of inpatient programs is therapy because making changes in actions and behaviors requires making necessary changes in thinking patterns. At this point, studies focusing on NyQuil addiction specifically and the effectiveness of the inpatient program are lacking. However, in their systematic review from the August 2019 issue of Drug and Alcohol Dependence, D. de Andrade et al. revealed residential programs can be effective for people with substance use disorder, especially if they integrate mental health treatment and provide continuity of care post-discharge. These findings are significant because the treatment of addiction in a rehab center also involves the management of mental health problems that a patient may have.
  • Outpatient program: an approach that offers patients a way to maintain employment or keep going to school, live at home, and still receive the treatment and support they need. Outpatient programs are mainly beneficial for patients with mild to moderate addiction. They are useful for people who complete residential programs and want to maintain their sobriety with more structure in daily life. This approach largely depends on therapy that is held one-on-one with a therapist or in a group setting. A paper by S.E. Hadland et al. in the January 2021 issue of Pediatrics confirms that many young adults with substance use disorders can be successfully treated in an outpatient setting. The duration of the outpatient program depends on the patient’s individual needs. Patients generally need up to 12 weeks to get the best results.
  • Support groups: the groups of people with similar problems who gather on a weekly basis to share their experiences and help one another overcome the challenges of addiction recovery. The main goal of support groups is to give and receive support. Every attendee at the meeting can share their story, talk about recovery, challenges of sobriety, and how they overcome them. Their stories can serve as a source of motivation to fellow attendees because they can relate to their experiences. Social support and participation in support groups are important factors for long-term recovery from addiction, according to a paper that A.B. Laudet et al. published in the March 2002 issue of the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs. There is no specific duration of this approach, people can attend meetings for months or years after their recovery. The duration of meetings is about one to two hours.

Are there any medications that can help with NyQuil addiction?

hands holding pills

Yes, there are medications that can help with NyQuil addiction treatment. Although there is no FDA-approved medication formulated specifically for this kind of substance use disorder, a healthcare professional may prescribe medications to treat underlying mental health problems or symptoms of mental illness. For example, a person with depressive symptoms may receive antidepressants. Patients with symptoms of psychosis due to dextromethorphan may receive antipsychotic medications. According to a study by M. Zaremba et al. in the December 2022 issue of Biomedicines, atypical antipsychotic agents are beneficial for the treatment of DXM-induced psychosis. What makes them beneficial is their better efficacy as well as a favorable safety profile.

The purpose of medications is to alleviate symptoms of mental illness to support recovery from addiction.

Can cognitive behavioral therapy treat NyQuil addiction?

Yes, cognitive-behavioral therapy can treat NyQuil addiction. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is based on the premise that thoughts influence or dictate emotions and behaviors. The main goal of CBT in the treatment of NyQuil addiction is to help identify negative or irrational thoughts that contribute to addictive behaviors and replace them with more rational alternatives.

Coognitive-behavioral therapy is useful because of its patient-centric and goal-oriented approach. During CBT sessions, patients learn to find connections between their thoughts, feelings, and actions to improve awareness of how they impact the recovery process. CBT helps patients cope with stress and negative stimuli so that they process their emotions in a healthier manner. Cognitive-behavioral therapy combines both cognitive and behavioral therapy, hence the name. The behavioral aspect focuses on actions that people take, while the cognitive aspect is concerned with people’s perceptions i.e. what they see, hear, or feel. The therapist doesn’t just observe or aim to control a person’s behavior, a November 2020 post titled “Can Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) Treat Addiction” on the website Very Well Mind explains. Instead, the therapist helps a patient understand how their feelings, thoughts, and perceptions make them act a certain way. Addiction itself is an example of a conflicted behavior. The affected person may know the use of certain substances isn’t good for them. They may understand that using too much NyQuil regularly is bad news and attempt to cut down or stop. But the compulsive need to use the medication is stronger than rational thinking. During CBT sessions, patients learn how to overcome this conflicted behavior.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy uses multiple techniques in the treatment of substance use disorder. These techniques target operant learning processes, motivational barriers to improvement, and traditional CBT varieties. They show effectiveness in the treatment of addiction and can be combined with each other or with medications, according to a paper by R.K. McHugh et al. in the September 2010 issue of The Psychiatric Clinics of North America.

In a paper from the September 2019 issue of Perspectives on Behavior Science, Brian D. Kiluk confirms that CBT helps people gain better control over learned behavioral patterns, decreases impulsive responses to seek instant reward in response to cues for substance use, and it also improves their decision-making and problem-solving skills. This type of therapy can be delivered in a computerized form thereby allowing people in remote areas to receive guidance and support too.

The exact number of CBT sessions for people with NyQuil addiction depends on the severity of their addiction and underlying mental health problems. People generally need six to 20 sessions. The duration of each session is 30 to 60 minutes.

When should we seek treatment for NyQuil addiction?

We should seek treatment for NyQuil addiction when the use of this medication becomes recreational and excessive. NyQuil is taken to alleviate symptoms of flu and common cold. Taking NyQuil when a person isn’t ill is a sign of a problem and it is necessary to seek professional help. Seeking treatment is particularly important if a person is already exhibiting signs of NyQuil addiction such as compulsive use, neglecting responsibilities, social withdrawal, behavioral changes, or experiencing withdrawal symptoms when they reduce intake or stop using NyQuil entirely.

Can NyQuil addiction be handled in outpatient treatment?

Yes, NyQuil addiction can be handled in outpatient treatment. The outpatient programs are suitable for people with mild to moderate addiction. The greatest benefit of outpatient treatment is that patients can maintain employment or adolescents can keep going to school. They can work on their recovery while facing the challenges of day-to-day life. People in outpatient treatment programs can live at home and attend therapy sessions regularly. Living at home allows them to receive support from loved ones, which is important for the recovery process. Outpatient treatment programs tend to be more affordable, too.

Can NyQuil addiction be handled in inpatient treatment?

Yes, NyQuil addiction can be handled in inpatient treatment. The inpatient programs are primarily beneficial for people whose addiction has become so severe they are unable to function on their own. These programs work because they provide more guidance and structure than outpatient alternatives. In addition to regular therapy sessions, people also have access to educational opportunities, alternative or holistic treatments, and life skills training.

Major advantages of inpatient treatment for NyQuil addiction include access to professional support on a daily basis, structured schedule and supervision, and complete and uninterrupted focus on recovery and sobriety.

How long does NyQuil addiction recovery typically take?

The NyQuil addiction recovery time depends on the severity of the addiction, frequency of use of this medication, how long a person has been using it, and the amount of medication used to achieve pleasurable effects. There is no specific timeframe during which every patient with NyQuil addiction recovers. Duration of inpatient treatment can last up to 90 days, outpatient programs around 12 weeks, but it can take one to two years to achieve full recovery (this is usually because studies focus on benefits of specific treatment methods during this timeframe). People can experience symptoms of withdrawal for a few days up to several weeks.

How is NyQuil addiction prevented?

a "be aware" text on a wooden board

NyQuil addiction is prevented through raising awareness and providing education to high-risk groups about the dangers of excessive and repeated use of this medication.

Avoiding people and places associated with NyQuil addiction is also an important prevention method. Restricting access to NyQuil helps too. Parents should make sure their children or teens can’t easily get their hands on (and use) this medication at home. Also, it’s useful to keep an eye on the amount of NyQuil in the package or bottle. Try not to buy NyQuil for the purpose of stocking up. Parents should discuss this subject with other parents so that they can collectively work toward preventing NyQuil abuse and addiction among their teens.

Adults and teens should be encouraged to seek help for problems and symptoms of mental illness or other struggles, so they can learn to cope in a healthy way. Adopting healthy habits is a good way to protect physical and mental health and wellbeing alike. People, whether adults or adolescents, should learn to deal with stressful times or peer pressure in a healthier way that won’t lead to engaging in risky behaviors and substance abuse.