DXM In cough medications does no harm when consumed in normal dosage of one or two tea spoons. If you consume more (like half a bottle ) it produces a high along with hallucinations. This is what the kids are getting hooked to.
If your kid looks zonked, but there is not a whiff of alcohol and no visible sign of any drug abuse, its time you checked your medicine cabinet for the cough syrups. There is a rising trend in adolescents to get a high on cough medication. The reasons are not far to look. These are easily available medications(over the counter) and most homes have them in the medicine cabinet.
The active ingredient in some common cold and cough medications is dextromethorphan or DXM. That's what makes kids high. It is a legal drug that might be found in your medicine cabinet. You use it to alleviate cough and cold symptoms but some teens are abusing it and getting high.
Cough medicines with DXM when taken in large enough doses can produce hallucinations.
There are more than 100 'over the counter medications' that contain DXM. And unlike some drugs that are placed behind the counter in pharmacies, cough medications containing DXM are placed on shelves for teens to freely purchase.
Chugging cough medicine for an instant high certainly isn't a new practice for teens, who have raided the medicine cabinet for a quick, cheap, and legal high for decades. But unfortunately, this dangerous, potentially deadly practice is on the rise.
So it's important for parents to understand the risks and know how to prevent their kids from intentionally overdosing on cough and cold medicine.
Why Do Kids Abuse Cough and Cold Remedies?
Before the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) replaced the narcotic codeine with dextromethorphan as an over-the-counter (OTC) cough suppressant in the 1970s, teens were simply guzzling down cough syrup for a quick buzz.
Over the years, teens discovered that they still could get high by taking large doses of any OTC medicine containing dextromethorphan (also called DXM).
DXM-containing products — tablets, capsules, gel caps, lozenges, and syrups — are labeled DM, cough suppressant, or Tuss (or contain "tuss" in the title).
Medicines containing DXM easy to find, affordable for cash-strapped teens, and perfectly legal. Getting access to the dangerous drug is often as easy as walking into the local drugstore with a few dollars or raiding the family medicine cabinet. And because it's found in over-the-counter medicines, many teens naively assume that DXM can't be dangerous.
DXM abuse is on the rise, according to recent studies, and easy access to OTC medications in stores and over the Internet could be contributing to the increase.
What Happens When Teens Abuse DXM?
Although DXM can be safely taken in 15- to 30-milligram doses to suppress a cough, abusers tend to consume as much as 360 milligrams or more. Taking mass quantities of products containing DXM can cause hallucinations, loss of motor control, and "out-of-body" (disassociative) sensations.
Other possible side effects of DXM abuse include: confusion, impaired judgment, blurred vision, dizziness, paranoia, excessive sweating, slurred speech, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, headache, lethargy, numbness of fingers and toes, facial redness, dry and itchy skin, loss of consciousness, seizures, brain damage, and even death.
When consumed in large quantities, DXM can also cause hyperthermia, or high fever. This is a real concern for teens who take DXM while in a hot environment or while exerting themselves at a rave or dance club, where DXM is often sold and passed off as similar-looking drugs like PCP. And the situation becomes even more dangerous if these substances are used with alcohol or another drug.
Being on the Lookout
You can help prevent your teen from abusing over-the-counter medicines. Here's how:
- Lock your medicine cabinet or keep those OTC medicines that could potentially be abused in a less accessible place.
- Avoid stockpiling OTC medicines. Having too many at your teen's disposal could make abusing them more tempting.
- Keep track of how much is in each bottle or container in your medicine cabinet.
- Keep an eye out not only for traditional-looking cough and cold remedies in your teen's room, but also strange-looking tablets (DXM is often sold on the Internet and on the street in its pure form in various shapes and colors).
- Watch out for the possible warning signs of DXM abuse listed above.
- Monitor your child's Internet usage. Be on the lookout for suspicious websites and emails that seem to be promoting the abuse of DXM or other drugs, both legal and illegal.
Above all, talk to your kids about drug abuse and explain that even though taking lots of a cough or cold medicine seems harmless, it's not. Even when it comes from inside the family medicine cabinet or the corner drugstore, when taken in large amounts DXM is a drug that can be just as deadly as any sold on a seedy street corner. And even if you don't think your teens are doing it, chances are they know kids who are.
If you have any of these products in your house, a good piece of advice: Don't store them in the medicine cabinet. Talk to your growing up kids and warn them about the danger of this silly addiction, which can turn fatal if unchecked.