Abuse of Sudafed
Sudafed® (pseudoephedrine hydrochloride) is a non-prescription decongestant medication, most often used to treat nasal or sinus congestion due to allergies or the common cold. Although it is not traditionally considered a drug of abuse, Sudafed can be misused in a few different ways.
Sudafed can also be used to make methamphetamine ("meth"), and this is probably the best-known way that the medication is misused. However, the medication can also be abused by taking it for non-medicinal purposes. For instance, Sudafed causes a stimulatory reaction in many individuals, causing a rapid heart rate, high blood pressure, and an excitable, hyperactive feeling. Sudafed is sometimes abused by athletes to help them get "pumped" before a competition. People also sometimes use Sudafed for its ephedra-like effects in an attempt to lose weight.
Sudafed abuse can be very dangerous. When abusing Sudafed for weight loss or athletic performance, people sometimes take more than the recommended dose. This can lead to heart palpitations, irregular heart rhythms (arrhythmias), or even heart attacks.
(Click Abuse of Pseudoephedrine for more information on Sudafed abuse and to find out why Sudafed products must be kept behind the pharmacy counter.)