NyQuil Abuse

NyQuil is a safe medication only when used as prescribed.

NyQuil addiction | Table of Contents

Understanding NyQuil

NyQuil is a common over-the-counter medication that helps manage symptoms of fever, common cold, and other similar conditions and allergies. It is made and marketed by Vicks, a US pharmaceutical company. NyQuil provides short-term relief for headaches, coughing, stuffy and runny nose, fever, sore throat, and sneezing. It also helps those who have symptoms of cold sleep through the night. Although it provides relief from such symptoms, NyQuil is not a treatment for common colds or flu. NyQuil is generally considered a safe and effective medication for adults and children over six years of age.

NyQuil contains three active ingredients, known as acetaminophen, dextromethorphan (DMX), and doxylamine. Acetaminophen alleviates minor pain and reduces fever. Dextromethorphan helps suppress cough, while doxylamine (antihistamine) helps relieve congestion, sore throat, and sneezing. Although doxylamine induces sleep, it can also cause drowsiness during the daytime. NyQuil is intended only to be used as short-term relief and not as a cure for long-term health conditions. NyQuil is not a treatment for insomnia and should not be used as such.

Vicks also produces and markets DayQuil, a popular medication for patients seeking relief from cold symptoms without feeling drowsy on a working day. DayQuil relieves the same symptoms as NyQuil but contains ingredients such as acetaminophen, dextromethorphan, and phenylephrine, a non-drowsy nasal decongestant.


What does NyQuil do?

NyQuil provides temporary relief from sneezing, sore throat, headache, minor aches and pain, fever, runny nose, and cough. It also helps people with cold symptoms sleep through the night.

Can NyQuil be bad for you?

The side-effects of NyQuil are generally minor and do not require immediate medical attention. NyQuil is not harmful if it is used appropriately.

Is NyQuil illegal?

Nyquil is not illegal, however individuals under the age of 18 cannot purchase the medication according to a new bill that had been passed in 2013.

NyQuil Effects, Abuse, and Addiction

Teens, in particular, abuse NyQuil in large doses to get high. This is attributed to dextromethorphan (DMX), one of NyQuil’s active ingredient, which possesses the capacity to generate mind-altering effects. DMX is an active ingredient in over 70 medications, and it is not regulated as a controlled substance. In small doses, DMX only functions as a cough suppressant that does not pose a risk of significant side effects. Excessive amounts of DMX may induce hallucinations and euphoria similar to that of illicit mind-altering substances. Since DMX products are legal and do not require a prescription, some individuals use DMX as a simpler alternative to recreational drugs. In reality, more than 3 percent of American 12th graders have exploited NyQuil, DayQuil, and other DMX-based medications.

NyQuil misuse and abuse may cause the development of dependency. NyQuil is abused when consumed in large doses or when used for off label purposes such as treating chronic bronchitis, asthma, or when used for recreational purposes.

Patients who find it difficult to fall asleep without the use of NyQuil or when they experience withdrawal symptoms when trying to quit are signs of a NyQuil addiction. Physical withdrawal symptoms of NyQuil often characterize alcohol addiction, opioid addiction, and dangerous stimulants, such as cocaine and methamphetamine.

Symptoms of NyQuil withdrawal include:

  • Cravings for NyQuil
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Chills
  • Restlessness
  • Shaking and tremors
  • Stomach pain and nausea


Why do I feel weird after taking NyQuil?

A NyQuil dose tends to evade REM sleep for longer than your normal sleep cycle generally does. After that, as the medicine begins to wear off, your brain encounters a rush of acetylcholine, causing a quick rebound of REM sleep in an attempt to make up for the lost time.

How effective is NyQuil for sleeping?

Using NyQuil as a sleep aid is known to make people drowsy and fall asleep. The duration of sleep can vary depending on the person. For some, taking NyQuil is good for sleeping between four to six hours, while for others, sleep lasts between seven to eight hours.

How many days in a row can you take NyQuil?

Do not take the medication for more than seven days in a row. Quit taking the medication and contact your doctor if you still have a fever after three days of prescribed use.

NyQuil Side Effects and Dangers

The most common side-effects of NyQuil, if any, are mild that does not require medical treatment. NyQuil is not harmful if used correctly.

The side-effects of NyQuil may include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dry mouth, nose, or throat
  • Lightheadedness
  • Blurred vision
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Nervousness and excitability
  • Stomach pain

When NyQuil is abused for its DMX properties, the outcome can be severe. The effects of a heavy dose of DMX are similar to the effects of PCP, an illicit hallucinogen. DMX impairs judgment and co-ordination, which makes driving dangerous. The combination of a high dose of DMX along with alcohol, acetaminophen, or antidepressants can affect the liver and cause seizures, heart attacks, and, in certain cases, even death. Some individuals may also experience an allergic reaction to NyQuil. Symptoms of an allergic reaction to NyQuil may include:

  • Hives
  • Rash
  • Itching
  • Trouble swallowing and breathing
  • Swelling in the throat, lips, and face

The consumption of NyQuil in large doses for non-medical purposes can cause an overdose.

Symptoms of a NyQuil overdose may include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sweating
  • Stomach and abdominal pain
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Agitation
  • Confusion
  • Flushing
  • Hallucinations
  • Yellowing eyes and skin
  • Dark urine
  • Seizures


Why does NyQuil make you sleepy?

The primary component of NyQuil is Doxylamine Succinate, which is an antihistamine that causes drowsiness by obstructing histamine from binding to the brain receptors.

Can you stay awake on Nyquil?

A standard dose of Nyquil wouldn’t do anything other than make you sleepy. However, DXM is a dissociative drug at higher doses and will definitely keep you awake and high.

Should I take NyQuil during the day?

Technically, NyQuil can be taken during the day, but it can cause the user to feel tired and drowsy. Hence, it’s best to take it at night, or if you have planned to stay home for the rest of the day.

How to Prevent NyQuil-Related Dangers

NyQuil is a relatively safe medication when consumed as directed by the label. Individuals who frequently consume NyQuil in large doses may experience a loss of consciousness or suffer from acetaminophen-related liver damage. Individuals should also refrain from consuming alcohol, antidepressants, and other acetaminophen-containing medications while taking NyQuil.


Can you take NyQuil with alcohol?

NyQuil and alcohol should never be combined. Doing so can bring about unpleasant short-term side effects and, in some cases, lead to more serious long-term effects.

How long should I wait to drink alcohol if I am taking NyQuil?

If you just consumed a drink, you should not take NyQuil for at least an hour. On the other hand, since NyQuil lasts about 4 to 6 hours per dose, you should wait for that period to pass before having a drink.

NyQuil Addiction Treatment

Patients with a NyQuil addiction will require medically assisted detoxification to help alleviate withdrawal symptoms and successfully complete the process. After the completion of detoxification, patients must then undergo treatment at an inpatient treatment center to help address the psychological dependence on NyQuil and learn positive coping mechanisms to avoid the use of the drug in the future. Inpatient treatment centers provide patients with counseling, therapies, and an introduction to support groups. They also educate their patients on healthy coping skills, relapse prevention techniques, and education on health and wellbeing. After the completion of an inpatient program, patients are highly advised to continue with treatment through an aftercare program to help maintain sobriety and prolong their recovery.


How long does NyQuil take to wear off?

Although the average dose of Nyquil lasts for around 4 to 6 hours, doxylamine may have a significantly larger range of effects. Depending on the person, its effects can last anywhere between 3 to 8 hours.

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