The 5 Most Common Legal Over-the-Counter Drugs

Over-the-counter drugs are medications that are sold legally in pharmacies and stores without a prescription. These drugs are all approved and regulated by the United States for people ranging from infancy to adulthood. While these medications are considered safe, they do put people at risk of substance abuse or addiction. Over-the-counter drugs, or non-prescription medications, are intended for medical uses such as pain relief, cough suppressants or antacids. However, many individuals use over-the-counter medications for alternative purposes.

Examining which five over-the-counter medications are most commonly sold in America can shed light on just how common this kind of addiction is for the population. Let’s take a look at the five most popular over-the-counter medications, ending with the most commonly sold non-prescription medication in the United States:

  1. Robax Platinum. Robax Platinum is the fifth most commonly sold non-prescription medication. Robax Platinum combines muscle relaxant with ibuprofen to help individuals suffering from back pain, muscle spasms and tense or strained muscles.

While it was designed to specifically help people afflicted by chronic back pain, it can be abused for alternative reasons. The side effects listed include blurred vision and dizziness, which hint that the effects of this medication can be strong. Individuals abusing Robax Platinum may feel relaxed, weak, euphoric, dizzy and easygoing. It has been reported that Robax Platinum is being or was recently reformulated to help prevent people from abusing it.

  1. Nicorette products. Nicorette made its debut decades ago, with campaigns boasting its ability to help people quit cigarettes once and for all. Now, in 2015, Nicorette remains the fourth most commonly sold over-the-counter medication in America. Nicorette aims to help smokers quit by providing the nicotine they are addicted to in the form of gum, inhalers, lozenges, patches or breath strips.

Because quitting smoking can have strong withdrawal symptoms and cravings, Nicorette can be useful in keeping these at bay, especially during inconvenient times such as at work or before bed. While Nicorette was developed to help individuals quit nicotine addiction, some people simply switch from cigarettes to over-using Nicorette products in general without ever foregoing nicotine.

  1. Zyrtec. Thanks to some very prevalent advertising campaigns, most people are familiar with the Zyrtec brand. Zyrtec was once a prescription medication, but it is now available over-the-counter in most places. Zyrtec is a popular non-drowsy anti-allergy medication aimed at reducing symptoms such as runny nose, itchy eyes and sneezing. However, it is possible to become reliant upon and ultimately addicted to Zyrtec, which comes in as the third most popular non-prescription drug of the United States.
  2. Sudafed. Sudafed is the second-most purchased over-the-counter medication in America which is surprising because its regulations are stricter. Sudafed, a cold medication, was developed to battle unwanted symptoms such as cough, sinus pressure and stuffy nose.

However, the main ingredient in Sudafed, pseudoephedrine, is a key ingredient in meth or crystal meth. Once the government understood the prevalence of meth and meth labs, it became increasingly difficult to buy Sudafed. Now, it is common for people to be required to show a valid driver’s license and proof of being over the age of 18 before purchasing this medication. However, the drug remains popular for its illegal and legal uses and is commonly sold year-round everywhere.


  1. Robitussin. Robitussin is the most commonly sold over-the-counter medication in the United States. Unlike the previously mentioned medications, Robitussin is sold in liquid form, making it especially easy to use in different formats.

Robitussin was developed as a cough suppressant to help relieve cold and cough symptoms. However, one of the active ingredients in Robitussin, Dextromethorphan (DXM), can cause additional effects on the consumer such as hallucinations, euphoria and psychosis. Drinking Robitussin for these desired effects is sometimes referred to as “Robo-Trippin’” and it can also be combined with alcohol or other substances to make “sizzurp.” Robitussin is very commonly abused, and it is now common to have to sign paperwork before purchasing this legal substance.

Because many over-the-counter drugs have substances in them that can be considered to be stimulants, depressants or hallucinogens, these medications (like illicit drugs) can be used to alter one’s state of mind. When non-prescription medication is bought to use as a mind-altering substance, the possibility of over-the-counter drug addiction can become very real. If you or someone you know is abusing over-the-counter medication, contact us today to learn how to get help.

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