Over-the-counter (OTC) Drugs
Candy When we think of drugs someone might abuse we might easily think of drugs such as marijuana, heroin, cocaine or even prescription drugs such as Oxycontin. What we might not think of so easily are OTC medications like common cough and cold remedies such as Robutussin, yet these drugs are quite often abused, especially by young people.
- Triple C
Cough and cold medications are easily available just about anywhere and are accessible to everyone, even children and teenagers. Although safe and effective when used properly, these same medications can be taken in excessive doses to get “high”.
One commonly abused OTC drug is dextromethorphan, or DXM. DXM is a cough suppressant found in a large number of OTC products such as Robutussin or Coricidin.
Side Effects of DXM
- Impaired judgment & mental performance
- Decreased ability to regulate body temperature
- Sweating or hot flashes
- Blurred vision
- Rapid heart rate and increased blood pressure
- Loss of coordination
- Nausea and vomiting
- Distorted visual perceptions or hallucination
- Itching, also called “Robo itch”
- Dissociation or Feelings of being outside one’s body
What to Look Out For
The appearance of being high or drunk without the odor of alcohol or marijuana
Empty packages or bottles of cold medicine products in their bedrooms, trash, cars, backpacks, etc
Odor of cherry flavor cough syrup on their breath
Red eyes/possibly dilated pupils
Ataxic, or robotic gait/walking, also called “Robowalking”
What Can I do to Keep My Child Safe?
Talk with your child about the importance of taking OTC medications as directed and help then to understand the risks and dangers of taking too much.
Keep track of the medications in your home. If you notice they are disappearing too quickly ask questions. Monitor what medications your teenager may be taking and for how long. If it seems like they are taking a medication long after a cold has subsided you should be concerned.
Monitor Internet use. Unfortunately DXM can be bought on the Internet in bulk as a powder form making it very easy to abuse. There is also a virtually unlimited amount of information on how to use these products to get high that may not be as safe as your child might think.