Nyquil is usually administered as an over the counter drug to treat the common cold and its properties can lead to abuse, and eventually Nyquil addiction. It has a combination of antihistamines, cough suppressants and pain relievers, all intended for treatment of fever symptoms. It also contains powerful sedatives to help induce sleep; sleeplessness can often accompany the common cold.
Many teens abuse Nyquil recreationally, a trend called robotrippin, with the misguided concept that Nyquil addiction is not possible, and that at worst, the effects are negligible. For this reason, adolescents and young people may end up mixing this substance with other drugs e.g. alcohol, making it lethal.
Dextromethorphan is the strongest ingredient in the drug and is generally associated with Nyquil addiction. Also known as DXM, this substance is added to many cough medicines, whether in syrup, capsule, or lozenge forms. In its pure state, it’s usually a white powder.
DXM is used recreationally to induce the hallucinogenic feeling of dissociation, similar to that of ketamine and phencyclidine. It distorts the visual fields, hearing, perception of time, excitement and creates a sense of euphoria. The ‘high’ it produces is not consistent and is experienced in varying degrees.
In normal doses, Nyquil can cause drowsiness, nausea, dizziness, difficulty breathing and itching. It may also cause sudden death in infants. Some of its more potentially serious side effects include:
It may cause unexpected death when taken with Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), used to treat Parkinson’s, because it can cause a quick build-up of serotonin in the body, which is potentially life-threatening.
Doxylamine is an antihistamine, as well as a sedative. Common trends leading to Nyquil addiction are usually associated with its properties as a hypnotic, used in an effort to alleviate insomnia, which can also result with prolonged usage.
Common Nyquil Side Effects
Nyquil abuse is also associated with memory problems, dry mouth, psychosis, attention deficiency and increased sensitivity to stimulus. When taken in excessive amounts, it causes seizures, night terrors, hallucinations and death, usually as a result of seizures, cardio respiratory difficulties and coma. In rare cases, it may cause rhabdomyolysis, the breakdown of muscle fiber contents into the bloodstream.
Though this drug is not addictive in itself, and the withdrawal effects are not adverse, prolonged usage can cause dependence, leading to psychological symptoms such as insomnia. The alcohol in Nyquil has long been taunted as having an effect on Nyquil addiction, but it is of negligible amounts; just enough to enable the other active ingredients to dissolve in it, considering they do not dissolve in water.
The alcohol in Nyquil is approximately 0.2% and is not enough to cause any substantial damage when in the solution with acetaminophen. The ‘high’ associated with Nyquil is as a result of DXM, and not the alcohol. The paracetamol ingredient is also considered safe for any healthy individual.
When abused for long periods of time, Nyquil addiction can cause memory impairment, liver and kidney damage, addiction (to the ingredient DXM) and in extreme cases, death. Taking Nyquil in small proportions does not have any adverse effects and it is therefore recommended to be taken for short periods of time, and then discontinued. It should not be mixed up with other kinds of medication, unless under the advice or supervision of a doctor.