Pseudoephedrine Abuse: Symptoms, Effects, & More

Pseudoephedrine is a decongestant commonly used by people who have allergies, a cold, hay fever, or sinus pressure/pain. It works by reducing inflammation in the sinus cavities to make breathing easier.

The drug is an ingredient in prescription and over-the-counter medicines such as Sudafed, Decofed, Advil Allergy Sinus, and Suphedrine. However, because it is sometimes used by those who illegally make methamphetamine, it is not sold out on the shelves of the store anymore. Rather, it’s sold behind that counter, so you have to ask for it, show your ID, and sign a log book when you buy it.

Pseudoephedrine Effects

Various side effects are associated with pseudoephedrine, a stimulant. When taken as prescribed, you shouldn’t experience dangerous side effects. Instead, you may experience mild ones such as:

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Cramping stomach
  • Lethargy
  • Restlessness
  • Faster heart rate
  • Insomnia



If you’re taking more than the recommended dosage of medications containing pseudoephedrine, you run the risk of developing serious side effects, such as:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Heart palpitations
  • Hallucinations or seizures

Pseudoephedrine Abuse

Health experts say that pseudoephedrine abuse and misuse is increasing, especially in teens and young adults. Easy access to the medication may be one reason. One can simply go to the pharmacy and ask for it. Those who abuse pseudoephedrine usually do so because they enjoy the way they feel when taking it. As a stimulant, it boosts one’s energy, so the more you take it, the more intense that energy boost may feel. Some people also report feeling a bit euphoric.

However, taking more than prescribed is a recipe for disaster, and serious side effects could occur.

Signs of Pseudoephedrine Abuse or Addiction

One sign that someone is abusing this drug is finding a large number of cough medicines that have pseudoephedrine in them. Maybe the person does have some allergies, but buying cough medication in bulk isn’t usually common. That’s not to say everyone who buys it in bulk is abusing it, but some may be.

Another sign of abuse or addiction is taking more of the medication than prescribed. If you’re doing this because you like the way it makes you feel, you’re misusing the drug and could become addicted to it.

How Does Pseudoephedrine Interact With Other Drugs?

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Being aware of how pseudoephedrine interacts with other drugs is important. When combined with certain drugs, you run the risk of experiencing paranoia or respiratory distress, depending on whether the drug is a stimulant or a depressant. Health experts say you should avoid certain drugs, such as:

Pseudoephedrine Addiction

You may be taking a cough or allergy medication and not realize that you’re becoming dependent on or addicted to it. You could be building up a tolerance and taking more and more, not realizing that it has the potential for addiction. This is one reason it’s wise to learn about the ingredients in your medications that treat sinus and allergy issues.

Many people believe that because they don’t need a prescription for the medication, they can’t become addicted to it. However, the potential for abuse and addiction is there for pseudoephedrine.

Pseudoephedrine addiction can happen. If you believe you’re addicted to it or you think you might be, know that you’re not alone. Others have become addicted to these types of drugs and have ended such addictions. So can you.

Ready to get help?

Let our treatment experts call you today.

Pseudoephedrine Withdrawal

If you’re addicted pseudoephedrine, you may experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking it. The intensity and time frame to get through those withdrawal symptoms will vary depending on specific factors, such as the dosage you’ve been using, how long you have been using the drug, how frequently you’ve been using the drug, your age, and other things.

When you go through this detox under the care of substance abuse professionals, you’ll likely have an easier time. You’ll know what to expect and have the expertise of others who can steer you in the right direction. Detoxing from any drug is the first step toward a complete recovery.

Treating Pseudoephedrine Addiction

If you’ve tried to break free from this addiction but haven’t been able to, know that substance abuse professionals are ready and willing to help you.


There are various treatment options to treat addiction. For people who are heavily addicted to a drug, heading off to a residential treatment program is recommended. There, you can live at the residence and receive treatment at the same time. This can be very helpful as you only have yourself to worry about, which means you can completely focus on your recovery in your own space. Time away from family and friends can be extremely valuable.

You’ll also be under the care of substance abuse professionals around the clock. You learn a lot about the disease of addiction and likely receive individual and group counseling.

Some opt to stay in treatment for 28 days. Others stay longer, perhaps 60 or 90 days. For serious addictions, some opt to spend six months or more. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), 90 days, or three months, is the minimum recommended length for effective residential treatment.


If you’re contending with a mild addiction, going to outpatient treatment may serve you well. You’ll get the same type of treatment that you would at a residential facility, with the exception that you’ll be able to stay at your house. You may attend anywhere from three to seven weekly meeting sessions, and can you go home once your sessions are over. This is a great option for those who have work or family responsibilities that they cannot take a break from.


A third option is geared toward those who can’t attend residential treatment for some reason yet need more intensive treatment than outpatient. IOP usually requires you to attend more than 12 hours per week. You’ll receive the same type of treatment as the others, allowing you to overcome this addiction and learn plenty of other valuable life skills as well.

Reach Out for Help Today

We’ll gladly answer any questions you have and help you get the ball rolling toward your recovery. No longer does addiction have to control you. With professional help and a desire to overcome, you can do this.

Feel free to give us a call today at (855) 960-5456, and allow us to speak with you about pseudoephedrine and your particular circumstances, and how we can best serve you in breaking free from this addiction. There are various paths to recovery, so there is a right one for you. Allow us to help you discover that path and help you get started.