5 Things to Know about Teen Abuse of Cough and Cold Medicine

Cough MedicineAlmost 50 percent of all the over the counter drugs sold in the United States contain dextromethorphan (DXM). While DXM is safe and effective when used properly, it can be mind-altering when abused – exactly what many teenagers have been doing. Here are some sobering facts on why parents need to pay attention to DXM abuse:

DXM is very popular

In 2008, a study found that 10 percent of American teenagers had abused products with dextromethorphan (DXM) to get high. A significant number of teens in need of drug addiction treatment in Sandy may owe their first hallucinogenic trip to DXM.

DXM is cheap and easy to get

While laws are coming up to limit teenagers’ access to DXM, there are still too many readily available DXM products. And compared to buying illegal drugs, obtaining a bottle of cough suppressants or a packet of cold medicine is easy. Kids can even sneak these medications from home.

DXM seems safer than illicit drugs

Many teenagers mistakenly assume that cough medicine, even at extremely high doses, is safer than illegal drugs. So, while they may be hesitant to buy illegal drugs, they are relaxed about experimenting with a legal medicine from a cabinet at home.

Cough medicines can be addictive

High doses and repeated abuse of cough suppressants may lead to addiction. A person may seek out and take cough and cold medicines repeatedly.

People can die from misuse of cough and cold medicines

High doses of DXM can cause symptoms, such as impaired vision, rapid breathing, hallucinations, and coma. Abuse of promethazine-codeine cough syrup can slow down the central nervous system, and this can slow or stop a person’s heart and lungs. The risk is greater if the syrup is mixed with alcohol.

These teenagers are unaware of the risks involved in misusing and abusing cough and cold medicine. Parents and their children should remain educated in order to win the battle against substance abuse and addiction.