Common Household Items of Abuse

In the ever-changing field of addiction, we recognize and understand the many and varied substances of abuse. From alcohol to illicit drugs, even sexual addiction, and gambling, we have treated and continue to learn about the many facets of these substances/behaviors and the ways they are made, acquired, abused, and, ultimately, controlled. But our industry — and our society — are constantly evolving, and with those changes come the reality that people will find new ways to chase that high.

To think that addictive and dangerous substances are only pushed by “drug dealers” and the “wrong crowd” is to look at the problem myopically. The reality is that social media and the Internet have opened Pandora’s box. This new uncontrolled realm of information has brought the once arms-length threat from the streets into our homes, revealing new methods and substances around us daily.

While we often focus on the brightest headlines – the fentanyl crisis, for example – we sometimes forget the less-discussed ways someone can get high with household items which are often a gateway to further abuse. First, it is essential to talk about why humans experiment with substances or risk unknown ramifications for a momentary high. Some of this can result from the teenage battle cry of “boredom,” seeing experimentation and risky “challenges” on social media, feeling peer pressure, mimicking an influence in the household, or escapism from life.

The following are some hidden “drugs” readily available in the home. While some of these may be familiar, there are certainly some that will surprise you.

In The Medicine Cabinet: Cough Syrup, Antidiarrheal pills, Motion Sickness Pills

While raiding the medicine cabinet and looking for pill bottles is nothing new, it has become more common for an addicted individual or a child to experiment beyond prescription pills.

Motion Sickness Pills

Often referred to as “substance D” or “dime,” motion sickness medication like Dramamine, dimenhydrinate, creates a psychedelic effect when abused in high doses.


Over-the-counter antidiarrheals often contain loperamide. Authorized by the FDA, it is classified as a peripheral opioid receptor agonist or synthetic opiate. When taken in proper doses, it addresses gastrointestinal issues, however, when larger doses are intentionally taken, it can cause opioid-like effects. The FDA warned in June 2016 about high doses of loperamide leading to serious cardiac issues and even life-threatening arrhythmia.

Cough Syrup

DXM, or dextromethorphan, the common ingredient in many cough syrups and cold remedies, is readily used and has no severe side effects when taken as indicated. When abused and taken in large amounts, however, it acts as an agent for a cheap and easy high. It can lead to hallucinations, distortions of reality, and feeling relaxed.

While DXM is in many OTC cold medications, others contain codeine and promethazine. These are stronger and available only by prescription. Abuse of these drugs is glamorized in popular music and by musicians who sing about abusing it by mixing it with soda or candy to mask the bitter taste. This is referred to as “sizzurp” or “syrup.” Because of its popularity with famous and often idolized musicians, it appeals to the younger generation.

Highs due to dextromethorphan make the user feel an out-of-body experience. This is known as a dissociative substance, much like PCP and ketamine.

In The Pantry: Nutmeg

Perhaps one of the most surprising ways someone can get high from household items is by abusing a common item on your spice rack: nutmeg. Most associated with adding a little extra kick to holiday treats, cookies, and even eggnog, nutmeg, in large quantities, can create a hallucinogenic effect. While recipes may call for a sprinkle, abuse of this substance is around two tablespoons and can create a high that lasts up to 24 hours. Some have reported that they have felt a hangover for almost two days—the high can lead to a feeling of heaviness in the extremities and hallucinations.

In the Bathroom: Mouthwash, Alcohol Tampons

This has surprised many but recently hit the headlines. It has been discussed that soaking tampons in alcohol allow the user to get “drunk discretely.” Once soaked, usually in vodka, the tampon is inserted with the goal of intoxication. Teens and young women claim to use this method of getting high for several reasons. First is the misconception that it helps them to avoid failing a breathalyzer test. They believe they can become intoxicated without registering on the test, but this is untrue as the breathalyzer measures Blood Alcohol Concentration, with no alcohol on the breath. Another reason is that the alcohol is absorbed through mucous membranes rather than the stomach, allowing the alcohol to work faster. Additional reasons are to avoid the unpleasant taste of alcohol and to bypass the necessity of drinking it and absorbing calories. While ingesting alcohol through bodily orifices other than the mouth is a dangerous trend, this has likely been sensationalized without verifiable scientific backing.

Another method of getting high from a household item in the bathroom is the abuse of mouthwash. Mouthwash contains ethanol and is abused just as alcohol is, the consumption of large quantities of mouthwash can result in the same effects as consuming alcohol.

In the Junk Drawer: Glues and Adhesives, Dusting Canisters, Hand Sanitizer

Inhalants are everyday household items that are usually first on this list for experimentation. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, around 2 to 3% of adolescents use inhalants to get high. The methods of doing so depend on how the inhalant is abused. Huffing involves putting the substance onto material like clothing or a towel and pressed to the face to inhale the fumes. Sniffing/snorting is directly taking the fumes from the container. Bagging involves emptying a substance into a bag and then breathing the fumes. The feeling of numbness and the sensation through the body is the sudden absorption into the brain and the subsequent damage to nerve fibers. Side effects range from drowsiness and slurred speech to permanent speaking problems, vision issues, muscle spasms and tremors, and sometimes coma and death.

In the Fridge: Whipped Cream Canisters

One of the most popular ways to get high from an inhalant is found in your refrigerator. Whipped cream containers are a common way for those experimenting with household highs to reach a state of numbness, weakness, loss of balance, dizziness, and impaired memory. Whippets describe the inhalation and release of nitrous oxide (NO2), the gas inside the aerosol canister.

In the Garden? – Seed Packets

Along with the nutmeg abuse, this might seem shocking and is another trend that has emerged on social media and has gone viral. Kids abuse seed packets bought from the garden store—particularly morning glory seeds, which create a euphoric hallucinatory effect. Morning glory seeds contain a milder version of LSD called LSA, and when ingested in large quantities cause hallucinations. These can be taken orally or steeped to make tea.

Undoubtedly, some of these are pretty surprising. While some users can leave a visible trace for parents like nutmeg spilled or empty canisters found, things like tampons soaked in alcohol usually never leave a trail. So how do we detect that these items are being abused, and how can we tell if our child is getting high at home?

What Can We Do?

First, knowing that these everyday items can lead to abuse is a good start. Be aware of where you store adhesives, canisters, and alcohol-based products. And while we do now send hand sanitizer with our kids attached to their backpacks, be aware of how much is being used if containers are being emptied quickly, and try to be more aware of the “small signs.”

The second important thing we can do is to refrain from observing quietly. Once we understand and see the signs, it’s essential to act. Many parents are uncomfortable with this kind of open dialogue, but parents must get involved in this age of misinformation and deadly challenges. Our children are inundated with images, videos, how-tos, and step-by-step instructions on obtaining and abusing countless products. Only by speaking up and talking to your children about what’s out there can you start a dialogue about being aware of the temptations and how to avoid them. Sometimes children experiment because they don’t know the ramifications; they only see a catchy video or an online challenge and are encouraged by their peers. But if you have a dialogue early enough, they may start to understand more and recognize that you are a safe space when the pressure mounts.

An excellent way to start is to pull your child aside, no matter their age, and tell them you know all the temptations and trends in getting high. If you are struggling with the words or believe your child is getting high at home, reach out for help through a pediatrician or substance abuse program. At The Sylvia Brafman Mental Health Center, we can help you understand and approach the situation.

It is also essential to be aware of their methods of communication, especially devices, and technology, including cell phones, iPads, and even gaming. Adolescents and young adults are ever-connected and exposed to more than ever. As much as we don’t like to discuss it, this means that sexual images, violence, and substance and drug abuse images and availability are ever-present. Software like Snapchat that erases messages/videos is commonly used to hide these conversations. Online gaming platforms where gamers connect within that software are also popular avenues of sharing information not observable by parents. Monitoring software and boundaries and structure within the household is critical in understanding the situation. This also takes tough parenting, and it isn’t always easy. We hear so much in therapy about parents not wanting to be the bad guy, wanting to befriend their children, and wanting to be the cool parent. Still, ultimately these things don’t end in friendship — they end in loss and a child unable to process the temptations before them – not just in their adolescence but in adulthood.

Although there are all kinds of apps and programs, and tons of software to spy and detect odd behavior, we stress that the number one detector is a parent’s intuition. No one knows your child better than you do, and no one knows when something is off. This is a time to have uncomfortable conversations and to be aware of your surroundings. If something is missing, you find empty containers of hand sanitizer, or you see a kid interested in your spice rack when they never were before, these are early opportunities that should be seized upon. It’s important to remember that these behaviors are usually stepping stones for greater highs and more risk. The conversation must start somewhere; waiting out the “difficult” years can be irreversible and dangerous.

Lastly, if you believe your child, or someone you know, is abusing substances, household or not, there’s always help. Early detection and treatment can often address the underlying issues that lead someone to want to get high. Getting help can often be tricky; parents sometimes don’t want to accept or believe that some problems stem from the home. Those abusing substances will do just about anything to go undetected. It takes much courage to be open and reach out for help.

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Marion Weston, executive director


Executive Director

Marion Weston, Certified Interventionist, has been sober since November of 1989. Since then, she has sponsored many women through the 12-steps as well as being heavily involved in service. Also, Marion has led step workshops and has given talks in Nebraska, South Florida, Washington, New Jersey, Sweden and many other venues.

She has been involved since her first days in recovery with her Church and has enjoyed years of success in the chemical addiction field. Originally from Bellingham, Washington, Marion now resides in South Florida. Her favorite phrase is “turning scars into stars”.

Peter and Marion have a combined sobriety time of nearly 60 years, and a combined 40 years being in service to others in the field of treating substance use disorder.

Marion has been involved in recovery for over 25 years. She has walked many women down the path of recovery on both a personal and public level. Having been a part of 1-on-1 mentor-ship in recovery guiding women towards freedom, to leading various workshops to educate groups of men and women on the practical approach to a sober lifestyle. Marion strives to better herself and be of service to those around her.

Women recovering from alcohol addiction sometimes find it extremely difficult to survive without medications, the Through The Archway program helps them learn different dimensions of life and get over with addictions eventually.

Andrea Morganstein MS, RD, LDN, CDCES, Registered dietitian



Andrea Morganstein MS, RD, LDN, CDCES is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes care and education specialist who received her Master’s degree in Nutrition and Dietetics from Florida International University in Miami, Florida. Some of her certifications include weight management, functional nutrition, fitness, and diabetes.  She currents owns a private practice in Davie, Florida and works one-on-one with individuals helping them achieve a healthier lifestyle using conventional nutrition as well as functional/integrative nutrition concepts. 

She started her career in Sports Nutrition and weight management but over the years has expanded her knowledge and expertise to include diabetes, mental health and substance abuse. As a contractor for multiple local addiction and mental health facilities, Andrea shares her passion and knowledge about nutrition in conjunction with behavioral changes with her clients suffering from mental health disorders including disordered eating and substance abuse. She works with them individually as well as in a group setting.

Alex Lizardo, Group facilitator



Alex Lizardo is an entrepreneur, writer, speaker, philanthropist, and an unshakable optimist. She is an obsessive learner who spends time reading, writing and creating strategic projects to help individuals make their dreams a reality. She is was born and raised in Venezuela, having moved to the United States in 2010 and established presence as a certified life coach with a specialization in spiritual psychology. A mechanical engineer and marketer by trade, she is currently a yoga and meditation instructor, reiki master, theta healer, and pranic healer. Her work focuses on trauma in inner child wounding and emotional codependency. She is a bonafide mental health advocate, and her passion for helping others is evident in all of her interactions with the Sylvia Brafman family.

Vinny Richards, Group facilitator



Vinny Richards is a unique therapist who went from working as an in-house therapist in various treatment centers to being a successful group facilitator bringing motivational enhancement lectures and relapse prevention programs to the mental health therapeutic community. His direct, authentic approach resonates greatly with the patients at SBMHC. Originally hailing from New York City, Vinny has also engaged in individual therapy with hundreds of clients over the last several decades.

Talia DeLuca (ACE, PPSC), Group facilitator



Ms. Talia DeLuca is certified fitness coach (ACE, PPSC) who is passionate about helping others to understand the important interplay between fitness, exercise, and mental health. She attended Boston College where she received a B.S. in Political Science and minored in Managing for Social Impact. During her time spent at BC Talia earned her personal training certification and became an instructor at the university recreation center. Talia further discovered her passion for fitness and mental health during an internship with Happify in her Junior year of college, where she helped to create an exercise program for app users to alleviate feelings of anxiety and depression. She is now a trainer at Anatomy in Midtown, Miami.

Talia grew up in a small town in Rhode Island and has spent the majority of her life in New England before moving to Miami in June of 2021. Throughout her youth and in school she struggled with anxiety, depression, disordered eating and other mental health challenges. Exercise has become a necessary aspect of her life that has helped her to better manage and overcome these challenges. In addition to training and fitness, Talia loves to spend time with her dog, eat, and travel.

Linda Milano, board certified Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner



Mrs. Linda Milano is a board certified Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner who is passionate about incorporating a whole health approach in the treatment of psychiatric disorders. She attended Florida International University where she first received a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing, and later a Master’s of Science Degree in Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing. She has over 25 years of experience treating patients with substance abuse and mental illness. She is certified by the American Association of Nurse Practitioners. Mrs. Milano also runs a private practice with over 200 patients. She grew up in a small town in Virginia. When she is not working, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends.

Jim Magner, Director of business development



Jim Magner has worked in the field of substance abuse and mental health for the last 15 years. He has always had a passion for helping others. Jim has held many leadership positions over the course of his career and draws on his own recovery experience to assist families and their loved ones.  Born and raised in Lynn, Massachusetts, Jim now lives in Coral Springs with his wife Courtney and 2 kids. When he’s not working or playing with his family, Jim’s hobbies include golfing, fishing, working out and watching Wheel of Fortune, which he was a contestant on back in 2017.

Linda Newman, Primary Therapist



Linda Newman was born and raised in NJ. She received her Bachelor’s degree from Monmouth College followed by her Master’s degree from Georgian Court University. She started my career in 1993 and have been working in the counseling field since then in different arena’s. I started as an A/D adolescent counselor for 5 years until my second child was born. At which time, I took some time off to raise my family. Upon returning to work, I did some counseling in the school setting for some time. I also spent some time on the alliance in my town and assisted in creating programs for the school district regarding alcohol and drug education. She relocated to Florida in 2011 and have been here ever since When I moved to Florida, I went back to SA/MH which I’ve been doing consistently since then. I have 2 amazing children.

Michael Lenok, MA, Primary Therapist



Mr. Michael Lenok, MA, is a primary therapist at SBMHC.  Michael has been working in the field of substance use and mental health disorders since 2017. Michael is proficient with individual therapy and case management. He takes a very personalized and individualistic approach to treatment, and works in collaboration with each and every client to help them realize their true potential. Michael excels at group facilitation. His group curriculum and material is personally created and original. Michael’s unique approach to treatment for co-occurring disorders is something that is unique to SBMHC.

Michael has a Master’s degree in Addiction Counseling: Integrated Recovery for Co-Occurring Disorders from the Hazelden Betty Ford Graduate School of Addiction Studies. He received his undergraduate degree in Psychology from Syracuse University. Michael is a native New Yorker but is settling in Florida after spending the past 3 years in Washington and Massachusetts. He is a diehard New York Knicks fan, and makes far too many basketball references. He spends most of his free time chilling with his dog, Mamba.

Tricia Taylor, Clinical Nurse



Tricia Taylor a detailed oriented Licensed Practical Nurse with extensive experience in business operations, patient services and work well with team members and doctors.

Possesses exceptional team building, communication, and interpersonal skills and the ability to quickly adapt to the ever-changing business environment. Creative problem solver that works closely with doctors and staff to provide real time solutions.

Cynthia Ingram, Director of admissions and case management



Ms. Cynthia Ingram has worked in the field of mental health and substance abuse treatment for over 25 years. Cynthia, through her own personal experience, strength, and hope, has worked closely with many treatment centers, community providers, courts and other organizations who walk with the same vision and purpose, to help those who struggle with mental illness. Through this journey her purpose is clear: to give back what was so freely given to her.

Valeska Medel, Director of operations



Ms. Valeska Medel has been a professional in the healthcare industry for the past 17 years, with a primary focus on the operational and administrative functions. She comes with 15 years of experience as the Executive Assistant to the Administrator for a skilled nursing facility and an additional year as a Business Development associate for a Behavioral Health Hospital. Valeska attend Florida Atlantic University where she received a Bachelor of Science degree in Health Administration.

She has certifications from Broward College in Business Operations, Business Specialist, Accounting Technology Operations, and Human Resources Management.

Valeska grew up a small town in Chile and moved to the United States at the age of 28 where she learned and became fluent in English. Outside of work, Valeska enjoys Latin dancing, travel, and cooking.

Jaime Blaustein is Co-Founder and CEO of Sylvia Brafman Mental Health Center



Credentials & Accolades

  • Credit Suisse – Investment Banking
  • Lord Abbett – Institutional Sales
  • Morgan Stanley & Wells Fargo – Wealth Management
  • Duke University – MBA
  • University of Michigan – BA

Mr. Jaime Blaustein is Co-Founder and CEO of SBMHC. Prior to this role, he was an investment banker at Credit Suisse in its Global Industrials coverage group in New York City. Here he was responsible for advising clients in the basic materials sector on strategic matters, including mergers, acquisitions, divestitures, leveraged buyouts, restructurings and various debt and equity financings. Prior to this role, he worked in institutional sales at Lord Abbett, a mutual fund manager overseeing ~$150 billion in assets under management. He previously worked in wealth management at Morgan Stanley and later Wells Fargo, advising a wide array of clients on investment strategies.

Jaime received his undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan and his M.B.A. from Duke University. He is an unapologetic NY Giants, Duke Blue Devils and Michigan Wolverine fan. His interests include fitness, steakhouses, international travel, meditation retreats, and quality time with friends. Jaime is a newly minted resident of Miami. He is actively involved in sponsoring dozens of men in recovery and is beyond excited to marry his business expertise with his passion for helping others make a comeback from the depths of mental illness and addiction.

Peter Marinelli, executive director



Through the Archway

Credentials & Accolades

  • International Circuit – Speaker
  • Certified Interventionist
  • National Council on Alcoholism – Speaker
  • Through The Archway – Founder
  • FHE Health Sober Living Program with Peter Marinelli

Peter Marinelli, Certified Interventionist and published author, has been sober since 1988 and has dedicated his life to helping others recover from alcoholism and drug addiction. The spiritual emersion program at Through The Archway has been created by Peter Marinelli. As an international circuit speaker, Peter has given hundreds of talks across the U.S. and Europe on subjects related to recovery.

He has spoken at numerous treatment centers, universities and medical organizations to both sufferers and clinicians alike. Peter has also been invited to speak for the National Council on Alcoholism and has been a guest on talk radio and has done workshops on spiritual transformation for various religious organizations.

He has spent the majority of his sobriety in the Treatment Center industry. Peter Marinelli’s mission is to help addicts and alcoholics recover from their fatal illness. He is the Founder and CEO of Through the Archway, a 30-day program designed to help suffering addicts reclaim their lives.

Dr. Linda Dolin, Medical Director of Sylvia Brafman Mental Health Center



Credentials & Accolades

  • Destination Hope –  Medical Director
  • House of Hope –  Medical Director
  • Florida Medical Center – Internal Medicine Physician
  • Florida University Hospital – Internal Medicine Physician
  • Milestones in Recovery – Internal Medicine Physician
  • MedPsych Consultants – Founding Partner

Dr. Linda Dolin is the Medical Director of SBMHC. She received her medical degree from Chicago Medical School and went on to complete her residency at Weiss Memorial Hospital in Chicago. Dr. Dolin brings nearly 32 years of experience as a practicing internal medical physician to her role as medical director at The Sylvia Brafman Mental Health Center. Her medical practice consists entirely of inpatient and outpatient clients with psychiatric diagnoses.

Dr. Richard Seely, Director of psychiatry

Richard Seely


Credentials & Accolades

  • Psychiatry & Addiction Medicine – Board Certified
  • Florida Medical Center – Psychiartrist
  • Florida Society of Addiction Medicine – Officer & Director
  • Profes sionals Resource Network – Evaluator & Provider
  • Princeton University – AB
  • Jefferson Medical College – MD

Dr. Richard Seely educated at Princeton University, Jefferson Medical College, and University of Miami residency in psychiatry, Dr. Rick Seely is Board-certified in psychiatry, child and adolescent psychiatry, and addiction psychiatry, and also in addiction medicine by the American Board of Addiction Medicine. He serves as an evaluator and provider for Florida’s Impaired Professionals Programs and for professional sports teams, and as a consultant to the Florida Board of Bar Examiners.

Dr. Seely is an addiction medicine psychiatrist who has served as medical director of addiction treatment centers in South Florida since 1990 and has had the privilege of assessing and treating over 100,000 individuals suffering from the disease of addiction. He has taught addiction psychiatry at medical schools for over 35 years and supervises psychiatric resident physicians in addiction medicine.

In long-term recovery from addiction himself, Dr. Seely empathizes with patients and provides clear, consistent, and compassionate guidance in their recovery efforts. He imparts his experience and knowledge in a manner consistent with humility and dedication to spreading the message of hope and recovery.

Ben Brafman, MS, LMHC, CAP, Co-Founder and Clinical Director of Sylvia Brafman Mental Health Center

Ben Brafman


Credentials & Accolades

  • Destination Hope –  President & CEO
  • The Academy for Addiction Professionals – President & CEO
  • Rx Angels – President & CEO
  • Sullivan Pharmacy – President & CEO
  • Barry University – Mental Health Counseling and Family Therapy

Mr. Ben Brafman, MS, LMHC, CAP is Co-Founder and Clinical Director of SBMHC. He has founded a multitude of programs focusing on addiction, men’s issues, eating disorders and personality disorders. Ben was Founder, President and CEO of Destination Hope, a treatment center specializing in substance abuse and mental health disorders, established in 2007. Ben is also the founder, President and CEO of The Academy for Addiction Professionals. The Academy is a school geared toward preparing professionals for the field of addiction by assisting students in getting their CBHT, CAS, CAC, and CAP. Additionally, Ben is also Founder, President and CEO of Rx Angels, a non-profit organization. Its main purpose is to help families that cannot afford medication and treatment for their mentally ill loved ones.

Ben has been in the field of behavioral health for 25 years. He has developed several programs in the South Florida area and has been instrumental in teaching other professionals how to effectively manage their clinical programs. Ben is recognized as a leading authority in behavioral health and a pioneer in clinical services. He is also actively involved in several community services programs. He has helped families all over the country from Atlanta, Georgia to Santa Barbara, California. He is a published author in the area of dual diagnosis and behavioral health. Additionally, Ben is a leading expert in family issues related to addiction and its impact on the system of family, having positively influenced thousands of families in his career.

Ben has a dual Masters from Barry University in Counseling and Family Therapy. Mr. Brafman is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor. He is also a Certified Addiction Professional and trains supervisors in the state of Florida to supervise others effectively. He resides in Parkland, Florida with his wife, Suzanne, and his 3 children Abigail, Jacob and Elijah. He has completed several marathons and is currently working on publishing books in the area of addiction, mental illness and behavioral health.