OTC drug addiction - a cautionary tale !


Staff Member
BASE UK Member
So Christmas 2018 and i have a stinking cold,

I’m a utter baby when i feel i can’t breathe properly and congestion is really blocking my nose, I can’t sleep several nights in a row and start to understand why sleep deprivation is used effectively as a form of torture !

My wife goes to the chemist and returns with a bag full of every cold and flu remedy they sell, amongst it a decongestant nasal spray (DNS)

This spray is AMAZING - suddenly i can breathe and therefore sleep ! slowly the cold eases with the help of several shots of DNS each day I feel much better

BUT despite the worst of the symptoms going I find that at night when I lie down I become congested and can’t breathe properly, a shot of NDS sorts it though and i can sleep

I should have realised what was going on when in the summer 2019 I did a triathlon, before the start I “needed” a shot of NSD as I knew it would help me breathe better so therefore perform better

On holiday the same year I hadn’t taken any NDS with me and recall almost shouting at the concierge to get me some ! these things should have been big clues but as far as i was concerned I still have a “niggling” cold so I needed this stuff so i could sleep well, I didn’t “want” to use it but I “needed” to it seemed

Anyway - February 2021 and i’m speaking to someone about the “cold” I’ve had for “ages” now that won’t quite go away. They point out that if there is no snot being produced it’s unlikely to be a cold and probably an allergy or intolerance which gets me thinking

next month or 2 followed investigation into washing powders, various food etc, lots of suspects but couldn’t find anything that fixed things

Start looking online and “over the counter drug addiction” (OTC) keeps coming up with NDS being a very common problem

Read deeper and it seems using this stuff for more than a week can cause a physical addiction............. I had now been using it daily for over 24 months !

I call NHS direct who make me a doctor appointment, who confirms this is the problem, the NDS works by reducing blood flow to the nose, more you use it the more you need it to keep your airways open, more you use it the more you need to achieve the same effect, eventually it stops working and in a worst case your nose can be permanently damaged in the same way as a cocaine habit would !

Only cure is cold turkey, not pleasant, no proper sleep for a week, used whiskey and paracetamol etc (even some “left over” tramadol I had one night !) to help but it really was not a fun week and you would not have wanted to be around me !

I now really understand why smokers and drug addicts cant “just stop”. its not a mental addiction, your body is telling you that you need this drug

Now free of it I feel fitter and better than I have for ages, According to my watch data i’m getting at least an extra hour (deeper) sleep a night and o2 sat is a couple % higher on average

anyway ........ moral is read the label and just because its over the counter from the chemists it doesnt mean it cant do harm !
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I found steroid nasal spray caused some nose bleeds, when I had absolutely nothing before.
Vicks vapour rub for me, I am a CPAP user.
I work outside on a quad so get wet and cold. Mix in hard work and some sun and then you get a chill. Always used to get colds and be stuffed up but after reading and seeing the effects of the Garlic aspirin mix Dursban replacement studied Garlic a bit more.
I hate taking any pills but every day I have an odourless Garlic tablet and never get colds anymore.


There are other OTC medicines to beware of. Top of the list are the 'max strength' painkillers like Nurofen Plus and Paramol which contain the opiate codeine. People get addicted and it's not the codeine that does the damage it's the huge quantities of paracetamol or other painkillers mixed with the codeine they end up consuming. OTC Sudafed decongestant may not be addictive but contains a strong stimulant called ephedrine, long term use can cause heart damage. It's also used to make crystal meth. Finally steroid creams can be bought OTC in small quantities, they are great at relieving skin irritation and reducing swelling but over use damages the skin.

Starane Hi-Load HL has been granted a new EAMU for BLW control in Millet

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Starane Hi-Load HL has been granted a new EAMU for BLW control in Millet

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