Medically Reviewed by Amita Shroff, MD on August 30, 2022
Cough Syrup

Cough Syrup


Many parents don’t think twice about having over-the-counter cough syrup at home. But if you take a lot at once, it can alter your thoughts or make you feel like you’ve left your body. You can become addicted. Too much can also slow your heartbeat and breathing, especially if you mix it with alcohol. You can die from it.




Some teens inhale household products like glue, Freon, aerosol sprays, cleaning fluids, gas from whipped cream cans, and even mothballs for a high that makes them feel drunk. It can be addictive, but inhaling even once can cause brain damage or death. The fumes can cause heart failure or clog your lungs so you can’t breathe.




A special type of inhalants called nitrites, sometimes called “poppers” or “snappers,” provide a different kind of high. They can boost sexual pleasure because of how they dilate blood vessels. Like all inhalants, they can cause death or brain damage, even for first-time users. They’re also linked to the spread of sexual diseases like HIV and hepatitis, because people who focus on getting high may not practice safe sex.




Yup, a chemical in the spice nutmeg may give you a feel-good high if you get enough of it. But it can also send you to the ER. Nutmeg poisoning can give you heart palpitations and make you feel dizzy, nauseous, tired, or anxious. Some people have died from eating too much nutmeg. Don’t worry, it’s way more than you’d ever put in a pie.

Alcohol Tampons

Alcohol Tampons


Some curious teens (female and male) may try to get drunk without drinking alcohol. They may soak tampons in vodka, then put them in their vaginas or rectums. There’s no proof that this works. What’s more, the vodka may burn sensitive vaginal or rectal tissue. In rare cases, it has caused colitis.

If teens get alcohol poisoning this way, without alcohol on their breath, ER doctors may not know what’s causing the problem, so treatment may be delayed -- and alcohol poisoning can cause death.

'Bath Salts'

'Bath Salts'


This powder that comes in small packets, also called synthetic cathinones, isn’t really for putting in the bath. Teens swallow, snort, or inject it. It can cause a feeling of joy or boost sex drive. But it could also make you feel drunk, get violent, or lose touch with reality. It’s addictive and can cause strong symptoms of withdrawal. Thousands visit the ER each year for things like chest pain, a racing heart, panic attacks, and hallucinations after using bath salts. Some die.

Motion Sickness Pills

Motion Sickness Pills


Teens take large doses of motion sickness pills for a high that may make them hallucinate. But too much of this OTC drug can make you violent or out of touch with reality, cause memory loss, or make you unable to speak or control your bladder. It’s not clear how many pills will produce a high or how many will kill you.

Hand Sanitizer

Hand Sanitizer


People have been known to drink hand sanitizer or use salt to pull out the liquid from the gel. Drinking this can lead to alcohol poisoning, seizures, coma, or death. Teens may drink more than they can handle, not knowing there’s much more alcohol by volume in hand sanitizer (60% to 95%) than vodka (40%) or beer (4%-6%). Some teens may drink aftershave for a buzz, but it can cause the same symptoms or death.

Anti-Diarrheal Pills

Anti-Diarrheal Pills


Taking too much anti-diarrheal medicine sounds like a bad joke, not a way to get a buzz. Still, teens may pop several pills to get a feel-good high. It’s risky. High doses of them can send you to the ER or even kill you.




There aren’t any confirmed cases in the U.S., but krokodil has generated a lot of talk in recent years. It’s a homemade drug invented in Russia. People inject it to get a high that’s like using heroin. The drug is very dangerous. It can destroy skin, muscle, bone, and organs it comes in contact with. Some users have needed to have body parts amputated. Many have died from using this drug.

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