How the Misuse of Common Cold Medicines Can Impact the Workplace

Although common cold medicine packaging lists key ingredients and side effects associated with each product, it is not uncommon for consumers to take these medicines without reading the package or knowing how the ingredients will influence them. In many cases of drug misuse, people are simply unaware of the side effects they will experience when they use a certain drug and furthermore; they are unaware of the risks they take when they take more than the recommended dose. This combination of adverse drug effects and user ignorance can prove disastrous in the workplace especially due to the fact that the majority of cold medicine misuse is not intentional. However, the effects that the drugs have on the user are worth concern.

One of the more popular cold medicines on the market is Codral, which cannot be purchased except through a pharmacist due to the presence of Pseudoephedrine Hydrochloride1, which is an amphetamine class drug, and is also the main component for methamphetamine and speed. While known for its ability to drain the sinus cavity and shrink swollen nasal mucous membranes, Pseudoephedrine may also cause dizziness, drowsiness, anxiety, excitability; and in rare cases— hallucinations, seizures, and paranoid psychosis. Taking more than the recommended dosage increases the chances that the person will experience these side effects.
Another key component to Codral’s day and night formula is Dextromethorphan Hydrobromide1, which is known to cause drowsiness and dizziness. When taken in excess of recommended dosages, Dextromethorphan Hydrobromide may also cause blurred vision, hallucinations and hypertension. While most people involved in the area of workplace safety and drug prevention are aware of these effects, the majority of regular employees are not and usually do not read or pay attention to any warnings that are on the packaging of the over the counter medicines that they use.

Although cold medicines contain ingredients that some people may intentionally abuse or use in the creation of other illegal drugs, most cold medicine misuse is unintentional. In many cases, people are simply trying to mask their symptoms so that they may go to work and do not realize that they are possibly endangering themselves or their coworkers by taking excess doses of cold medicine. Educating your workers on the effects of common household medicines may go a long way toward preventing an incident which would otherwise be the result of unintended ignorance on the topic.

If you notice that a worker is acting strangely and inquire about whether or not they are fighting a cold, you may reveal fact that the person is suffering from the side effects of cold medicine and be able to prevent a safety issue by sending the worker home. If a worker insists that he or she is not being influenced by cold medicine, the opiates found in the most common cold medicines will show up in a drug screen if you need to verify whether or not the drugs are present in a person’s system.

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