The misuse of NyQuil and other cough medicines as a means to achieve a euphoric or dissociative “high” has become a troubling trend.
Vicks Nyquil, a commonly available cold and flu medication, contains several active ingredients intended to alleviate various symptoms, including dextromethorphan, a cough suppressant, and doxylamine, an antihistamine. However, it is the presence of alcohol in some versions of Nyquil, roughly 10% by volume, that leads to the inaccurate and hazardous belief that it can be consumed recreationally to achieve intoxication.
In this blog, we will uncover the truth regarding the misuse of NyQuil as an alcohol substitute, elaborating on why this is a dangerous proposal that should never be undertaken. We believe that by giving an in-depth overview of NyQuil’s ingredients, intended use, and potential health hazards when misused, we can educate readers about the dangers of this worrisome trend, encouraging safer choices and responsible behavior.
What is NyQuil?
NyQuil is an over-the-counter medication produced by Vicks, typically used to treat symptoms of the common cold and flu. It’s a multi-symptom relief product that deals with ailments like fever, cough, runny nose, sneezing, and minor aches and pains. NyQuil contains three primary active ingredients: acetaminophen, dextromethorphan, and doxylamine succinate. Each of these ingredients serves a unique purpose, discussed below:
- Acetaminophen – This is a pain reliever and fever reducer. An overdose of Acetaminophen can lead to severe liver damage, and it should never be mixed with alcohol.
- Dextromethorphan (DXM) – Dextromethorphan generally acts as a cough suppressant. If consumed in high doses, it is known to cause hallucinations, a sense of dissociation, and other severe side effects. DXM is the reason some people misuse NyQuil, as it can create a sense of euphoria in high enough doses.
- Doxylamine Succinate – This is an antihistamine used to relieve symptoms of allergies, hay fever, and the common cold. Doxylamine Succinate can cause drowsiness and is the reason why NyQuil is typically taken before bed.
Can NyQuil Make You Drunk?
The straightforward answer to the question ‘Can Nyquil make or get you drunk’ is a simple ‘no.’ If we go into depth, we can find out that the sensation of drunkenness we typically experience results primarily from the effects of alcohol on the central nervous system and, more specifically, its impact on the neurotransmitter GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid). This interaction results in the lowering of brain activity, leading to symptoms of inebriation, such as slurred speech, slowed reaction times, and impaired motor function. The mechanisms through which NyQuil operates and its effects on the human body and mind are significantly different from those of alcohol.
The misuse of cough medicines, especially NyQuil, stems primarily from one of NyQuil’s active ingredients, dextromethorphan (DXM). While DXM serves as a legitimate and useful cough suppressant in the correct doses, it can induce severe health problems when misused because it has psychoactive properties. High doses of DXM can lead to a range of adverse effects, which may include hallucinations, paranoia, and impaired motor function. More serious physical symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, and a spike in heart rate and blood pressure. If we talk about more extreme cases, it can cause brain damage or even prove fatal.
Simultaneously, the other two active ingredients in NyQuil, doxylamine succinate and acetaminophen, can result in hazardous effects when consumed excessively. Acetaminophen, a common analgesic, and fever reducer, can cause severe liver damage if taken in high doses.
The risk of liver damage escalates drastically when acetaminophen is combined with alcohol. On the other hand, doxylamine succinate, an antihistamine used in NyQuil, can cause extreme drowsiness. In larger doses, this substance can lead to seizures, shortness of breath or can push the individual into a potentially life-threatening coma.
Moreover, it is noteworthy to mention that NyQuil does contain a small amount of alcohol, although not enough to cause drunkenness when consumed as directed. This level of alcohol is clinically insignificant and generally doesn’t pose a threat when the medicine is taken according to the recommended dosage.
However, if someone was to consume a large quantity of NyQuil in an attempt to get drunk, they would inadvertently be consuming a dangerous amount of alcohol, along with the other potent active ingredients, thereby exponentially amplifying the associated risks.
Risks of Misusing NyQuil
Attempting to use NyQuil to get drunk or high carries numerous major risks. Firstly, as mentioned earlier, DXM misuse can lead to a multitude of health problems. In large doses, it can cause a spike in blood pressure and heart rate, which can lead to a heart attack in severe cases. Furthermore, the hallucinations and sense of disorientation it causes can put individuals in danger, as they may struggle to make rational decisions or operate machinery safely.
Acetaminophen, another primary active ingredient in NyQuil, can cause serious liver damage if taken in high doses. Consuming alcohol alongside acetaminophen only amplifies the risk of liver damage.
Finally, the doxylamine succinate in NyQuil can cause extreme drowsiness, making it unsafe to drive or operate machinery. In high doses, it can lead to seizures or comas. It can also cause dry mouth, blurred vision, urinary retention, and constipation.
A Better Approach to Alcohol
Alcohol misuse is a serious issue and can lead to a host of health problems. If you find yourself seeking ways to get drunk that involve misusing medication, it’s essential to reach out for professional help. Many organizations offer support for those struggling with substance misuse or addiction.
So, while NyQuil does contain ingredients that can alter your state of consciousness, drinking it with the intention of getting drunk is highly unsafe and should be avoided at all costs for the sake of your health. Not only can it lead to severe health problems, but it also won’t give you the effects of being drunk that some people might be seeking.
Remember, alcohol should always be consumed responsibly, and medications should only be taken as directed by a healthcare professional. Misuse of either can lead to serious consequences and harm your health.
I am a passionate beer connoisseur with a deep appreciation for the art and science of brewing. With years of experience tasting and evaluating various beers, I love to share my opinions and insights with others and I am always eager to engage in lively discussions about my favorite beverage.