There is a new danger among cold and flu season and it isn’t a bug. It’s a new trend among teens that consists of abusing cold medicine in order to get high. The ingredient that they’re after is Dextromethorphan and is commonly found in over the counter cold medications such as Robitussin, Dimetapp, Vicks, Nyquil, Coricidin, Delsym and Thera flu. This drug decreases activity in the part of the brain that controls coughing. When taken in excessive amounts Dextromethorphan causes distorted vision, hallucinations and a euphoric feeling. These amounts are much greater than the 1 to 2 teaspoons that are recommended to treat cold symptoms safely. In fact, someone would have to ingest between 25 to 40 teaspoons of cough syrup in order to obtain a high to this degree.
Consuming such large amounts of cold medicine doesn’t come without its share of less than desirable side effects. Nausea, vomiting, numbness, increased heart rate and blood pressure often occur as well as scary or distorted hallucinations. Loss of motor coordination and function are another side effect and could seriously impair one’s ability to drive or operate machinery.
Addiction is a Possibility
There is also some concern for addiction with cough medicine abuse. As similar to many substances in medicine, Dextromethorphan can become addictive. It is possible to build up a tolerance to this type of drug and some users may find they are having to take more and more of it to achieve the desired effects.
Withdrawal symptoms have been reported in long-term users who have discontinued its use. Some of these symptoms include nausea, muscle aches, diarrhea, night sweats and anxiety.
The other problem with the addictive potential of cough syrup is, like other drugs, once can become mentally dependent on it. The substance will take someone “up” and then they will “drop down” mentally. Using more temporarily makes the person feel better but the more this happens the stronger the addiction becomes.
What Measures Can Be Taken to Stop the Abuse of Cold Medications
The abuse of these types of over the counter medications should be taken seriously. All medications of any kind should be safely locked away if you’re going to have them in the home. Parents should also closely monitor the amounts of medicine that are remaining in the bottles. These precautions should be taken because most teens get these drugs from their own homes.
Actually, 50 percent of people obtain prescription drugs or over the counter medications from friends or family members as opposed to drug dealers. It has been proven that knowledge is power and if more kids were aware of the dangers of abusing drugs, even cough medicine, they may not even experiment with them in the first place. Even though many states have taken certain precautionary measures to help curb the abuse of over the counter medications by minors, such as the requirement of showing ID when the product is being purchased, this doesn’t take the place of kids making smart decisions for themselves. This can only be done when they are given the knowledge of what can potentially hurt them or be a danger to them. If parents and schools work together to inform kids of these types of things, we would surly see a drop in the number of minors abusing drugs in the first place.
In addition, if you are aware of someone using these drugs, get them immediate help through a rehabilitation program now. Narconon offers successful treatment for cough syrup abuse with a good success rate for permanent recovery from the problem.