Thread: Teens turning cough medicine into 'new high'

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    Teens turning cough medicine into 'new high' 
    Teens turning cough medicine into 'new high'

    Sun Staff Reporters

    Some young people in Flagstaff are using over-the-counter cough suppressants to get high.

    And Flagstaff police are working with local businesses to put a stop to it.

    Officer Stephen VanOoteghem of the Flagstaff Police Department responded to a call of an attempted suicide earlier this week. The juvenile told VanOoteghem that he took 16 pills containing the drug Dextromethorphan, or DXM, to get high.

    "From what I have heard, this is the third case we've had recently," said Sgt. Randy Weems of the Metro anti-narcotics task force.

    "It's not a new thing," VanOoteghem, a former Metro agent, said. "It's just becoming more popular."

    DXM is a safe and effective ingredient found in many over-the-counter cough medicines, VanOoteghem said. When it is used as directed, DXM has few side effects.

    "But some people, especially youths, are abusing this medicine and causing serious damage to their bodies," VanOoteghem wrote in a flier he is distributing to Flagstaff stores that sell cough medicines. "They think it's an easy way to get high, but it's not."

    Kevin Brown, Flagstaff Unified School District director of administration, said cases involving students overdosing on cough suppressants has not come to his attention.

    "It's not to say there haven't been kids who have done that," he said. "It doesn't mean it's not out there."

    Sgt. Gerry Blair said police officers who teach DARE and GREAT programs at FUSD will be contacting school administrators about DXM abuse.

    According to Web sites that instruct users on how to take DXM to get high, capsules have approximately 20 to 30 milligrams of DXM. Light effects or "highs" can be felt after 100 milligrams. The effects last four to eight hours, depending on body weight and tolerance.

    Common cough suppressants used to get high include Robitussin and Vicks Formula 44.

    According to information from the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, the effects include a sense of euphoria, distorted perceptions of sight and sound and feelings of detachment and separation from self and environment.

    Physical signs of abuse can include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, confusion, poor coordination, rapid heart rate and dizziness.

    At very high doses, DXM can cause paralysis and can slow breathing to the point of death.

    Slang terms for DXM include Dex, Robo, Skittles and Syrup. A person high on DXM is said to be "Robo-tripping" or "skittling."

    Teachers are trained to look for changes in student behavior.

    "If they are acting odd we look into it," Brown said.

    VanOoteghem will be passing out the fliers at all local retail outlets that sell over-the-counter cough suppressants with DXM as an ingredient. His purpose will be to ask store owners and manager to help reduce the accessibility of the products to teens, he said.

    In the flier, VanOoteghem wrote, "Many companies have voluntarily removed the medicines containing DXM from the store shelves and have placed them in areas less accessible to teens and abusers of the drugs."

    VanOoteghem said police also will be educating store owners and managers on what to look for, such as excessive purchases of the drugs, incidents of shoplifting involving the drugs and the ages of purchasers of the drugs.

    Reporter Larry Hendricks can be reached at [email protected] or 556-2262.


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    Bluelighter MrM's Avatar
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    Nov 2002
    The North
    Teachers are trained to look for changes in student behavior.
    "If they are acting odd we look into it," Brown said.
    "hmmm, that child is acting strangly...."

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    Bluelight Crew frizzantik's Avatar
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    Sep 2002
    skittling? WTF?

    i suspect with the new robotussin dxm only pills we'll be seeing even more of these articles

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    Well once the media grabs onto something they'll thrash it for a short period of time and then move on..... next

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    DXM is really getting out of control... around here DXM only pills are called "skittles".

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    Bluelight Crew MattPD's Avatar
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    Aug 2001
    U.S. Somewhere...
    Originally posted by frizzantik
    skittling? WTF?

    i suspect with the new robotussin dxm only pills we'll be seeing even more of these articles
    That slang typically refers to Coriciden Cough and Cold ('Triple C's') due to their similarity to red Skittles.

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    wtf peopel were driking robo 25 years ago..what is it with the media having such a short fucking atteiton span.

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    Bluelighter dyscotopia's Avatar
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    Oct 2003
    vancouver, canada
    a new drug "craze" or "epidemic" sells more papers than saying "well, people have been abusing this for a long time, but now there are a few percentage points more using it then in the past".. i mean, c'mon, my mother remembers people getting high off cough syrup...

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    Bluelight Crew MagickalKat777's Avatar
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    Feb 2004
    Denver, CO
    Originally posted by frizzantik
    skittling? WTF?

    i suspect with the new robotussin dxm only pills we'll be seeing even more of these articles
    I agree. And many more deaths too. Have you looked at the long list of inactive ingredients on those pills? It's quite long, and includes such predators as magnesium stearate.

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    This is going on in my hometown right now as well. It's been on the local news everynight and stories in the paper about moving dxm containing products to the pharmacy where you have to sign a log when you buy it, must be 18, and are limited 2 bottles per purchase. I've never heard of skitteling, but on the news, it said that kids refer to it as that.

    They also did something pretty funny, they said, "DMX" instead of dxm.
    UMM i think that rapper is doing damage to teens everywhere, someone stop him!

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    Bluelighter greplet's Avatar
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    Mar 2003
    New York Ceetay
    Originally posted by dexter86
    and are limited 2 bottles per purchase.
    I always find things like that amusing, like they cant just go to the next pharmacy

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    Another related article.. 
    Bluelight Crew E-llusion's Avatar
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    Nov 2002
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    Over the Counter Overdose

    Reported by Ray Pedraza

    FEBRUARY 9, 2004 - When it comes to teens and drug abuse, they don't have to go very far to get high. For years, some have overdosed on anything from paint to potpourri.

    But now there's a new drug of choice just as easily available at the corner store.

    A Valley teen who we'll call "John" represents a growing number of adolescents getting high on common, over the counter cold tablets.

    "I knew I was gonna die but I didn't care cause I guess I was too messed up to notice," John said. "But I don't know, I kept on doing it though."

    Nationwide, overdosing on Coricidin alone doubled last year and started a potentially fatal trend among teens called "Skittling."

    That's because the pills look and taste a lot like candy. Some teens are taking them by the box load to get stoned.

    At the Sandstone Health Center in Pharr, an inpatient treatment facility, clinical coordinator Diana Villalon says at least half of the patients have abused Coricidin, also known as Triple C's.

    "It doesn't come in as a primary drug," says Villalon. "For most of these kids, they use it in addition to all the other hardcore drugs that they're tampering with - such as cocaine, such as marijuana."

    And that was the case for John, who's only 15 years old.

    "Well I did do other drugs and I wanted to stop doing cocaine 'cause that was my drug of choice. So, I tried others," he explains.

    Villalon says Coricidin contains Chlorpheniramine. And other over the counter cough medicines like Robitussin DM contain the ingredient Dextromethorphan. In high doses, she says the effects are similar to using morphine.

    Overdosing can cause long term effects on the brain and can even be fatal.

    Villalon says, "It acts like a sedative, it can also act like a psychedelic drug, very commonly known as PCP. The kids can hallucinate."

    John agrees, "it's like a dream. You close your eyes and you see everything. And if you think something, you're actually there."

    In an attempt to control potential abuse, stores like Wal-mart and Target limit the number of boxes sold and prohibit the sale to anyone under 18.

    At a Target store in McAllen, assistant manager Katrino Garcia says team members are trained to handle these situations.

    "If the guest is trying to purchase an item and is not of age, the screen will pop up that they are not of age," says Garcia, "the purchase will not be added to their total and we won't be able to sell it to them."

    Desperate to support his habit though, John found ways to break down 'those' barriers.

    He admits stealing from HEB and K-Mart, at one point even nine boxes at a time. He says it was his way of escaping his problems, that is until his family found out.

    "They found out when they called them from school, cause I took them at school. I took all 54 (pills) at school. They called that my factors weren't in place or whatever. Well, (then) they took me home. And I seriously swear I don't remember what happened after that."

    It turns out John passed out at school and ended up in the emergency room at McAllen Medical Center. Doctors worked quickly to detoxify and stabilize his condition, ultimately saving his life.

    A young life he hopes to have back on track after completing a four month drug treatment program at the Sandstone Center.

    Asked about how much money he spent on drugs, John answers saying, "a lot, I don't even remember. I spent a lot, stealing, (and) pawning. I'm surprised how I came up with the money, too."

    Money isn't the only thing he lost. The abuse took a toll on his body.

    "I kind of don't have that much memory as I used to. There's little blanks in my memory."

    "John" has this sobering thought for anyone considering abusing over the counter medicines.

    "Well, I would tell them not to do them because I almost died 2 or 3 times. Now I have a heart enlargement and if I do any kind of drug or alcohol... anything that speeds up my heart, I will die."

    John is making remarkable progress and he says he can't wait to be with his family again.

    As for abuse among other teens, talking about the problem is not meant to stir ideas.

    Counselors believe some parents are naive to pretend the problem doesn't exist and say awareness is the first step to prevention.


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