Cough Syrup Abuse
One of the riskiest teen behaviors is lurking right there in your own medicine cabinet. Taking cough and cold medications continues to be a hot craze for kids, but now younger kids are joining the ranks. Pharmacies and drug stores are now locking these medicines up to fight off kid theft. Drug rehab centers across the country are seeing record numbers of teens and young adults needing treatment for long term abuse and addiction to over the counter (OTC) cough syrups. By far the most popular with teens who abuse cough syrups are ones that include the ingredient dextromethorphan (DXM). The consequences are tragic and can cause addictions as well as deaths. Some of the slang names for DXM include: Dex, DXM, Skittles, Poor Man's PCP, Candy, Red Devils, Robo, Velvet, Vitamin D, Syrup, Tussin, Triple-C, CCC, Robo-tripping, Dexing, Robo-fizzing, and Skittling. What every parent needs to know to keep teens safer. One out of every fourteen kids aged 12 to 17 (more than 2.4 million) admit to using or abusing cough syrup containing DMX, according to the American Medical Association.
The ingredient found in most popular nonprescription cold and cough medicines - called Dextromethorphan or DXM - can be safely taken in the recommended dosage. While cough syrups containing dextromethorphan are definitely the most common way to ingest this drug, it is increasingly being abused in tablets and gel capsules. However, when taken in high doses it can produce euphoric highs and hallucinations and can become a dangerous, even deadly mind-altering drug. Many kids are taking as much as 25 to 50 times the recommended dose to get high, which could potentially cause long term side effects, including coma or death. When cough syrups containing DXM are taken in excessive amounts, it becomes the equivalent of a hallucinogenic drug such as LSD, and individual will feel their body begin to slow and feel more at ease while the brain acts at a reduced capacity. The American Medical association recently released a warning to parents stating that when kids take DXM in large amounts it can become a dangerous, even deadly mind-altering drug. Cough syrup abuse is on the rise perhaps because medicines containing DXM are easily accessible in drug stores (or medicine cabinets); since these OTC's are legal, cold-and cough syrup abuse has soared in recent years. Cough syrup abuse has dangerous side effects besides the DXM addiction. Most cough medicines contain acetaminophen. Acetaminophen is the brand name Tylenol. Although Tylenol is considered harmless, in fact large doses are harmful to the liver. A dose of acetaminophen over 4g in a day is considered dangerous, and it can lead to severe liver damage. Because of the acetaminophen, some DXM users extract the DXM from the cough syrup. This removes other substances from the syrup, so pure DXM is swallowed, Acetaminophen is not soluble in water, and so it can be removed using filtering processes.
Much like that of prescription or street drugs, if a person abuses cough syrups containing DXM long enough, they may develop an addiction, and problems may arise in cessation. If the individual stops taking the cough syrup abruptly, he or she can experience withdrawal symptoms, such as restlessness, muscle aches, cold flashes, vomiting, bone aches and insomnia. No matter what the reasons for abusing these over the counter cough syrups containing DXM, an individual can develop dependence and an addiction if the drug is taken too long or in too high of doses. The withdrawal process should be properly monitored at a drug treatment center. It is vitally important that those with an addiction seek the help they need to stop taking the drug and to learn how to function normally without it.