Tag Archive for: recovery

Over-The-Counter (OTC) Drugs, Accessible yet Abused

Written by Zahara Almira Ramadhan, Content Writer Intern at Project Child Indonesia

Do you recognize the show Euphoria? It is quite a popular series in which the main character is a drug-addict teenager. It’s scary, honestly, how teenagers’ exposure to drug abuse—be it at home, school, or from their own curiosity—can lead to this condition. That’s why this article will talk about this problem, especially during the commemoration of International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, or also known as World Drug Day, today. World Drug Day is marked on June 26 every year, with the purpose of strengthening the action and cooperation in achieving a world without drug abuse. Individuals, communities, and organizations all over the world are encouraged to take part in raising awareness about drug problems in society. We can contribute by sharing verified facts about drugs, such as the health risks, preventions, and solutions. Today, Project Child Indonesia wants to talk about a common drug problem among teenagers, which is over-the-counter (OTC) drug abuse.

What is OTC drug abuse?

Over-the-counter drugs refer to medicines you can buy at a store without a prescription. This might sound harmless, considering that people need generic medicines for common illnesses like flu, cough, or fever. OTC drugs are safe and effective when used accordingly as directed, but they often get misused by taking higher or frequent doses than necessary. This is a form of OTC drug abuse, which is when OTC drugs get used outside of what is medically recommended. OTC drugs often get abused because they are easy to get, inexpensive, legal, and free from age requirements or limits per purchase. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, around 3 million people aged 12 to 25 used OTC cough and cold medicines to get high (Nova Recovery Center, n.d). 

Cough and cold medicines are some of the most common OTC drugs to get abused. The reason is that cough medicines contain an active ingredient called dextromethorphan (DXM), which can make people high and create hallucinations when taken in high doses. Similarly, cold medicines contain an active ingredient named pseudoephedrine, which creates hallucinations and stimulant effects when abused. Other active ingredients in OTC drugs that are often abused to get high are loperamide in anti-diarrhea medicine and dimenhydrinate in motion sickness pills.

Taking a medicine outside of its appropriate dose and purpose will of course affect your body. Think about it as using some tools against its purpose. For example, if you use a knife to eat an apple because you are too lazy to grab a fork, the knife has a huge potential in cutting your mouth or tongue even when you’re being careful with it. Similarly, people who use OTC drugs for their personal favors are harming themselves. Some negative side effects are slurred speech and impaired motor and cognitive skills. Furthermore, long-term abuse can lead to more chronic conditions like memory loss, heart problems, kidney and liver damage, internal stomach bleeding, increased risk for stroke and high blood pressure, addiction, and death.

Yes, you read it right. OTC drug abuse can potentially lead to addiction—for certain OTC drugs, at least. Drugs that contain DXM and loperamide can lead to dependency and addiction. Similar to other addictions, OTC drug addiction is characterized by the inability to stop using the drug despite its negative effects on the person. Therefore, it is never a right choice to abuse or even consider abusing OTC drugs. But, what if we know someone who’s been abusing OTC drugs? What do we do to help? First, let’s familiarize ourselves with the signs of OTC drug abuse.

Many signs of OTC drug abuse are similar to the signs of using illegal drugs, which mainly involve physical and behavioral changes. Physical changes include overeating or undereating, gaining or losing much weight, sleeping too much or too little, and other changes that have been mentioned as the negative side effects. On the other hand, behavioral changes involve losing interest in socializing, poor performance at school or work, and irritability such as anger outbursts or blaming others. If someone you suspect of abusing OTC drugs is a family member or someone you live with, you can start paying attention to how they’ve been taking the drugs. These people may be taking more than the recommended dosage, continuing to take it once the health issue has resolved, or mixing it with alcohol or other OTC drugs carelessly. You may also notice that the scent of medicine is lingering on that person, as well as their personal space and belongings, such as their room and clothes. 

How do we help?

Like common drug addiction, OTC drug abuse and addiction need to be taken care of by professionals. The first step is to detox OTC drugs from the body, followed by rehab or therapy. OTC drug detox refers to medical management that prevents drug withdrawal symptoms and eliminates the physical dependency on the drugs. People who are addicted or have been abusing OTC drugs tend to experience withdrawal symptoms, such as mood swings, anxiety, distress, irritability, and disorientation when they stop using the drugs. A medical detox program may not always be needed for OTC drug withdrawal, but medical monitoring is helpful in ensuring the comfort of the person because they provide clinical support for psychological symptoms.

Next, rehab is needed to solve the underlying causes of the abuse. As you may know, some people tend to look for an instant fix for their personal problems, be it family problems, anxiety, depression, and so forth. This is when rehab takes place to provide behavioral therapy, support groups for recovery, and educational lectures. Therefore, what we can do to help is refer the person to certain recovery programs. Recovering indeed takes a lot of courage; it is not as simple as flushing drugs down the toilet. That’s why people who have been abusing drugs need all the support from their closest ones. Let’s not turn our attention away to ensure that our environment is free from drug abuse. 


Nova Recovery Center. (n.d). Over the Counter Drug Addiction: Side Effects, Detox, Withdrawal, and Treatment. Retrieved from: https://novarecoverycenter.com/drugs/over-the-counter-drugs/#h-what-are-the-side-effects-of-otc-drug-abuse 

UAB Medicine News. (n.d). How to Spot Over-the-Counter Drug Abuse in Family Members. Retrieved from: https://www.uabmedicine.org/-/how-to-spot-over-the-counter-drug-abuse-in-family-members 

UNODC. (n.d). International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. Retrieved from: https://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/drugs/index-new.html 

Recovering From Burnout

Written by Arlenea Halyda, Content Writer Intern at Project Child Indonesia

Let me paint you a picture.

You just came from work. The sun hadn’t come down yet, but you immediately plopped down in your bed, feeling dejected. A sense of suffocation and the desire to disappear into thin air was overwhelming. All you wanted to do was stare at the ceiling, but you knew you still got work to do—so you opened your laptop, ready to complete whatever task you had in front of you. But instead of being productive like you wanted, all you could do was stare at your laptop screen. A memory of your past self suddenly resurfaces, and as you got reminded of how excited and passionate you once were for this job, you felt dread and guilt. You wondered, what happened to that person? Where did your life start to feel grey and lifeless? Certainly, this wasn’t the future younger-you envisioned. 

Does the scenario above sound familiar? If yes, then you’ve probably been through burnout. But what does burnout mean, and why does it take such a toll on our mental state?

Burnout is a form of physical and mental exhaustion caused by excessive stress and pressure, leaving you feeling swamped and fatigued. This occurrence was recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2019 as an ‘occupational phenomenon’, which was further categorized as energy depletion and increased negativity and mental distance from one’s job. 

What makes burnout so dangerous is that oftentimes, it comes quietly, slowly creeping into you as you’re at the height of your productivity. It’s a slippery slope you could unknowingly fall into, without realizing that there’s a danger ahead. You might even mistake it as a simple ‘I’m just a bit tired,’ or ‘I currently have no motivation, but it’ll probably be fine soon.’ Then all at once, without warning, boom—you found yourself deep in the trench of burnout, detached from the world, with all your energy drained and your will to work singed away. 

You want to get out, but how? The more you try, the deeper you fall. Even as you try to fight it, in a fit of frenzy, and force yourself to relentlessly work, work, work, until you feel somewhat like the person you were before this wave of burnout hits, somehow you still can’t break free. Your pile of work becomes your worst enemy, even if it was something you once enjoyed. Days passed, and you can feel yourself losing hope of ever making any progress at all. Not only does your mind turn cynical and resentful, but it seems your body has its way to riot as well; it turns sick, refuses to sleep, and gives you a random ache out of nowhere. 

So, then what? With no end in sight, should you just lay there in your burnout hole forever, waiting for it to magically lower itself? But with the demanding responsibility of life, there’s no way you can wait until who knows how long for some miracle to happen, right?

Luckily, you don’t really need magic or a miracle to recover from a burnout period. You only need yourself and the willingness to get better! 

Here are a few things you could practice to recover from burnout.

Take a Break

It sounds so simple, yet so hard to do in this fast-paced world of ours. But when you’ve run miles upon miles that your legs are about to give out, rather than forcing yourself and watching your legs inevitably fall off, the best thing you could do is take a moment to stop and breathe.

Taking one or two consecutive days of break can do wonders! This means, not doing anything remotely close to working or being ‘productive’. Take the time to indulge in your hobbies, or even find new ones! You may also use this time to reconnect with the people you love and have wholesome conversations that aren’t work-related. Or, if you don’t feel like doing any activity or don’t have the social juice to socialize, you can simply just be. Sit in silence with yourself, curl up in your bed for hours, cry on the floor as a catharsis… Whatever floats your boat!

A brief moment of calmness and peace in the midst of a busy life can go a long way. And I promise you, after that well-needed and deserved break, you’ll run faster than you did before. Your mind and body will thank you.

Practice Self-Compassion

One of the most important things to keep in mind is: before we are employees, or business owners, or students, we’re human first. You’re a person with a life that’s not meant to be spent in front of your laptop all day, with limited time and capability—not a machine (hey, even machines need breaks every once in a while, or they’ll malfunction!)

When you’re so used to working or studying all day, it’s understandable if you feel guilty for taking breaks or not being as productive as you used to. But it’s exactly why you need to give yourself room to breathe, rest your weary bones, and pat yourself on the back for making it this far! After all, you’re doing the best that you can, with the strengths and resources that you have. That in itself is such a remarkable thing to do. Remember, your value as a person isn’t measured by your productivity!

It’s worthy to note, however, that burnout won’t go away overnight (I’m sorry!). Healing from a burnout period, in most cases, is progress that you have to endure for quite some time. But slowly and surely, you’ll get out of your burnout—and once you do, you’ll come back stronger than ever. Take care!


Who.int. 2019. Burn-out an “occupational phenomenon”: International Classification of Diseases. [online] Available at: <https://www.who.int/news/item/28-05-2019-burn-out-an-occupational-phenomenon-international-classification-of-diseases> [Accessed 12 October 2021].

Burnout: Symptoms and Signs. WebMD. (2020). Retrieved 12 October 2021, from https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/burnout-symptoms-signs.

Burnout Prevention and Treatment – HelpGuide.org. HelpGuide.org. (2020). Retrieved 13 October 2021, from https://www.helpguide.org/articles/stress/burnout-prevention-and-recovery.htm#.