What things in your home have abuse potential?


So many things that you have in your house have abuse potential.

If you live with pre-teens, teens, a drug abuser or an addict, it’s best to know what items in your home have abuse potential. These are just a few that we had experience with.

Kids will “skim” medicines. That means they’ll take one or two pills out of your prescriptions so you don’t notice. Or they will claim their own stimulant medicine “ran out” when in fact they sold it. Many kids taking stimulants don’t seem to be interested in abusing that one in particular. I know Charles did not because he hated the affect it had on him and he hated stimulants. It was probably the only drug he didn’t abuse.

This article does have a lot more links than I usually add so you can find out more information. This is often where abuse starts before it graduates to street drugs.

Cough medicine with Codeine

Codeine is an opiate. If you give your kids cough medicine with this in it, you could potentially trigger an opiate addiction. The chances of a child under 25 becoming addicted to an opiate is 15-18% while it’s 10% for adults.

Don’t expose them to something that may trigger a predisposition for addiction for the sake of quieting a cough. PAs and Doctors are not always aware this is an opiate. Just last November a friend in recovery went to the doctor told them he suffered opiate addiction and at the end of the visit they asked him if he wanted any cough medicine with codeine! Be proactive. Ask for something else. More information about cough medicine with codeine here.

Cough medicine with DXM

It’s cheap, readily available and a dissociative high. Kids often use this medicine for “robotripping.” It’s the dextromethorphan (DXM) that that is abused. Kids who abuse this one walk sort of robotic like with stiff legs. It’s frightening to see. You can read more about DXM abuse here.

Teens that abuse this will sometimes graduate to mushrooms, LSD and even opiates.

Vanilla flavoring

It has a very high concentration of alcohol as much as 40-60%. You can find non-alcohol flavorings online and at some health food stores. Vanilla powder is even better. (It’s actually quite good and better than the extract) I had a relative who was an alcoholic and she drank vanilla. I have had vanilla go missing in my cabinet. I switched to the vanilla bean powder.


The “whippits” in redi whip are used to get high as are canned air dusters (you use these to clean your computer keyboard), anti-freeze, helium, specialty glues, gasoline, sharpie markers and other art markers and much more.

This group is called inhalants and they cause seizures, organ damage and they are highly addictive. One third of kids who try it for the first time die so it’s worth knowing more about them.

Inhalants are everywhere and can be found in your home, purchased at nightclubs or convenience stores. Younger kids around 12 or 13 are more likely to abuse inhalants. Since they run the gamut from hairspray to gasoline, all you can do is the best you can do by putting any you must have out of sight.

Dog’s medicine

You think it’s for the dog, right? That tramadol has abuse potential. It is an opiate which again boosts serotonin levels making it a choice drug of abuse for many suffering depression.

ADHD stimulant medication

Your child with ADHD might not be abusing their medication but they could be selling it or friends can be stealing it. It has a high street value making it a temptation to young people who don’t understand the consequences of selling prescription drugs illegally. Usually when teens abuse this it is crushed and snorted and it’s an “upper.” For more signs of stimulant abuse, see this article. 

Abuse of stimulants as a drug of choice often leads to crack, cocaine or meth abuse.


Yes, your sleep medicine is a drug of abuse. Kids will take a lot of it and fight the sleep tendencies to get a dissociative effect. When mixed with alcohol, the effect intensifies to dangerous levels. Charles mixed this with alcohol and was literally out of his mind. One time I found him on the roof peeing in 22 degree F cold with only a pair of underwear.  He broke into a store and took 2 cigars and a six pack of Mikes Hard Lemonade, hardly worth the consequences of breaking and entering. He didn’t even remember what he did.

See below a conversation that I recorded with spyware in 2011 when Charles was 15. I changed the name of the other person to John Smith. He used a 3 in the word ambien to throw off my searches on his internet history.

Click to enlarge

Anything else in your medicine cabinet prescribed to you has abuse potential. And there are many things you probably don’t know can be abused.

You can’t clear your house of all these products but you can be more aware, putting them out of sight and out of reach and recognizing signs of abuse before things progress.

For more household products that have abuse potential, see these articles.

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I would keep these at times to catalog his behavior so I could figure out what he suffered from. Getting a diagnosis was difficult. A psychological assessment is one way to get a diagnosis, yet no one ever mentioned one
I would keep these at times to catalog his behavior so I could figure out what he suffered from. Getting a diagnosis was difficult. A psychological assessment is one way to get a diagnosis, yet no one ever mentioned one

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AnneMoss Rogers

AnneMoss Rogers is a mental health and suicide education expert, mental health speaker, suicide prevention trainer and consultant. She is author of the Book, Diary of a Broken Mind and co-author of Emotionally Naked: A Teacher's Guide to Preventing Suicide and Recognizing Students at Risk with Kim O'Brien PhD, LICSW. She raised two boys, Richard and Charles, and lost her younger son, Charles to addiction and suicide on June 5, 2015. She is a motivational speaker who empowers by educating and provides life saving strategies and emotionally healthy coping skills. As talented and funny as Charles was, letting other people know they matter was his greatest gift. And now that's the legacy she carries forward in her son's memory. Mental Health Speakers Website.

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