What are the Signs of Nasal Spray Addiction?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
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  • Last Modified Date: 14 August 2019
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Overusing chemical nasal sprays that are widely obtainable in over the counter formulas can cause nasal spray addiction. While these sprays work very well initially, they tend to have a rebound effect, which can encourage overuse of the spray. Once this rebound occurs, people need additional spraying to get the same effect, and their congestion actually gets worse. Difficulty occurs when people overuse the sprays in greater amounts and long past the suggested period of usage, and when they may begin to become secretive in their use. Dependence can be established and though people aren’t physically addicted, they are mentally and may find it difficult to quit.

Though nasal spray addiction is not an addiction to chemicals, it is an addiction of the mind. This makes sense because first use of nasal spray is extremely effective. The hope of reaching the same effectiveness level is present with each spray; though actual ability for the spray to work diminishes the longer it is used. Increased instead of decreased congestion mean that some people not only use spray past the point of effectiveness but use it too often. Usually increased congestion and using sprays in a manner that is not recommended by the manufacturer are the first signs of budding nasal spray addiction.


Those people who have nasal spray addiction talk about other addictive behaviors that fuel use. These can include stockpiling nasal spray and leaving it all over the house or the car, carrying it all times, and keeping some at work. Many people have awareness that what they’re doing is wrong or unsafe and this may lead to hiding the behavior from other people. Folks might head to a private bathroom to use nasal spray at work or at home, for instance so that others don’t notice. Some who have suffered this addiction even recount stories of how they deliberately shopped at different pharmacies or stores to buy nasal spray so that no one would notice their purchasing it in excess.

One of the troubles with nasal spray addiction is that continued use makes congestion problems worse, and people may have especial difficulty at night with congestion and post-nasal drip that makes it difficult to sleep. The problem really needs to be handled by quitting, but people might need medical support. Doctors have seen this addiction a lot, and usual course is to give medicines that help clear the congestion, while making sure that the person discards all nasal spray, so that they don’t use it again. Getting through the first few days of transition of nasal spray are difficult and uncomfortable. However, many are successfully treated in a couple of weeks, though it may take longer to break the mental habit, and if they have underlying nasal conditions that first initiated nasal spray use, these can get medical treatment too.


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Post 4

Nasal spray addiction is more common than people realize. My cousin was addicted to it after suffering from nasal allergies. He was able to quit with the help of a support group.

Post 3

@literally45-- I'm not a doctor either but I think you're wrong.

First of all, all nasal sprays are not the same, some of them do contain medication in addition to saline water. Secondly, substances are not the only things that cause an addiction, An activity can also cause an addiction if it causes the brain to release dopamine. So if someone gets pleasure out of an activity, if it makes them happy, they could become addicted to that activity over time. This is exactly what happens in addiction to nasal spray.

If an addict stops using nasal spray, he might not have physical withdrawal symptoms. But he will experience emotional symptoms such as anxiety, panic, worry, fear or restlessness. This is because the brain has made a connection between nasal spray and pleasure or satisfaction.

Post 2

Don't nasal sprays just contain saline water? Can we really say that someone who uses nasal sprays frequently is addicted to nasal spray?

As far as I know, addiction occurs when neurotransmitters in the brain are affected by a substance. So some type of chemical has to enter the body for that to occur. Overusing nasal spray just sounds like an obsessive-compulsive behavior to me. But I don't want anyone to get the idea that I'm a doctor or an expert. This is just my opinion. If I'm wrong, please correct me.

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