Teens Abusing Over-The Counter Drugs


It is hard to imagine that items you may already have in your medicine cabinet can be used by teens to get high. Over-the-counter drugs, especially cough and cold medications, are becoming very popular as recreational drugs for young teenagers between the ages of 13 to 16.

Cold medicines such as Robitussin, Nyquil, Vicks Formula 44, and Coricidin HBP Cough and Cold tablets contain a chemical called Dextromethorphan (DXM), which is found in more than 120 non-prescription cough and cold medications.

Teenagers have various nicknames for DXM including: Robo, Skittles, Triple C’s, Dex, Vitamin D, and Tussin.

Coricidin HBP Cough and Cold tablets contain much more potent doses of DXM than cough syrups, so the kids don’t need to drink a whole bottle of nasty tasting cough syrup. They can easily and conveniently take a few pills containing DXM to get high.

Unfortunately, there is quite a bit of information on the Internet regarding how much DXM it takes kids to get high, as well as what types of other drugs to try and mix together — this information is just a mouse click away.

The Drug Enforcement Administration classifies DXM as a “drug of concern” because if misused it can be very dangerous. However, there are no legal restrictions on purchasing the drug.

Drug manufacturers have expressed sympathy regarding concerns about the abuse of DXM, but so far they have resisted efforts to restrict access to consumers.

Growing concerns about DXM have led to some store chains and drugstores restricting access to products containing DXM, and to limiting the amount that can be purchased at any one time.

DXM is a synthetic drug that is chemically similar to morphine and has been added to cough syrups and some cold medications since the 1970s.

Authorities say that DXM overdoses typically occur in clusters, as word of mouth spreads through community middle schools and high schools.

DXM is not the only over-the-counter drug that teenagers are abusing. The list also includes diet pills, sleep aids, motion sickness medication, laxatives, diuretics, emetics (chemical compounds administered to induce vomiting).

Some teenagers use excessive amounts of diet pills, laxatives, diuretics and emetics in an attempt to lose weight quickly, others take them to get high. Young people may start taking just a few diet pills but then graduate to full addiction and dependence.

Ephedrine, caffeine, and phenylpropranolamine are just some of the dangerous and addictive substances found in diet pills.

Herbal, sometimes referred to as “natural” weight loss products can be just as dangerous as diet pills. All of these substances act as stimulants to the central nervous system and can have serious and potentially fatal side effects.

Motion sickness pills such as Dramamine are being used by teens; taken in large doses (one entire package or more), Dramamine can cause hallucinations.

Sleep aids such as Tylenol PM, Excedrin PM and Sominex can cause extreme drowsiness when abused. Extreme drowsiness can be a problem and it can lead to narcolepsy, which is characterized by short sleep episodes and sudden and abrupt weakness in the arms and legs. Sleep aids can also exert a stimulant effect that disrupts the teen’s regular sleep pattern.

It is important to be aware of the symptoms of over-the-counter drug abuse, these symptoms include: dizziness, poor memory, constant mood changes, anxiety, nightmares, inability to clearly think, nausea, poor coordination, lack of interest in normal activities, blurry vision, hostility, numbness, poor performance at work and school, confusion, sense of calm, hallucinations and sleep disturbances.

Over-the-counter drugs can be extremely dangerous resulting in overdose, and even death. Parents should be aware of the dangers and to any possible abuse of over-the-counter medications. Please seek medical attention immediately if over-the-counter drug abuse is suspected.

Please visit these References: www.teendrugabuse.us


Don’t use, abuse or be confused!

For questions or more information on the Gila County Meth Coalition, contact chair Juley D. Bocardo-Homan at the Gila County Sheriff’s Office, (928) 402-4321 or co-chair Misty Cisneros-Contreras at (928) 402-1879.


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