Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Abuse of cold medicine is on the rise: Schools, authorities are concerned over the cheap-high trend

Tahoe Daily Tribune

The slang terms include "Orange Crush" and "Triple C." They describe over-the-counter cold medicines such as Coricidin, which consumed at overdosing levels by teenagers, elicit toxic, hallucinogenic highs.

In the past month, two teenage boys were hospitalized after overdosing on the over-the counter cold medicine, said Steve Maxwell, El Dorado County deputy chief probation officer.

Although it has been on the national radar screen for years, authorities and school officials are warning parents about the dangerous trend that teens have embraced from coast to coast, and the problems associated with it. Authorities say the abuse may be wider than the two boys who went to the hospital.

"We are recognizing that several other minors that we supervise may have a problem with this," Maxwell said.

Coricidin offers "cold and flu relief" in red pills. It also contains the cough-suppressant ingredient dextromethorphan which can induce hallucinations and body highs when taken in large quantities, such as 15 or 20 pills, Maxwell said. Other cold medicines such as Robitussin contain dextromethorphan or DXM.

Overdoses can also induce a loss of motor skills, an irregular heartbeat, seizures and a loss of consciousness, Maxwell said.

Tahoe Youth and Family Services has known about the problem for years while dealing with teenagers with drug issues, said Program Coordinator Cindy Swalm.

"For some kids that's their drug of choice," Swalm said.

Teenagers between 13 to 16 years old are the main age group known for abusing the on-the-counter drug, Swalm said. The term "Orange Crush" is given to the drug trip since teenagers often wretch the red pills to induce the high.

"I know, it's gross," Swalm said.

According to a 2004 article by the New York Times, 2,523 calls arrived in poison-control centers from the "abuse and misuse" of dextromethorphan in 2000. More than 60 percent of the 2,523 calls involved teenagers, the article stated.

Three years later, the number had almost doubled to 4,382 with almost 75 percent of the calls involving teenagers, according to the article.

Numbers were attained through the American Association of Poison Control Centers' Toxic Exposure Surveillance System.

For its part, the company that makes Coricidin has acknowledged it's dangers if abused. Its Web site has a link for parents and professionals to learn strategies in curbing the possibility of abuse by teenagers.

Included in the section is a letter by Phillipe Cunningham, a drug abuse expert and assistant professor at the Medical University of South Carolina.

In his letter Cunningham provided five tips for parents to stop Coricidin abuse from happening.

But just as important is being aware of what types of substances are abused by adolescents.

"It is widely known that teens sometimes turn to illicit drugs like marijuana, ecstasy and methamphetamine to get high," Cunningham wrote. "But if you're like most parents, you're probably not aware that a number of over-the-counter products are also abused by teens."

Part of the drug's allure is its accessibility and cheap cost, officials said. For less than $10 a person can go to most supermarkets and buy Coricidin HBP, which contains dextromethorphan.

Swalm said she's been on a "personal rampage" for stores to place Coricidin behind the counter. Other cold medicine brands such as Sudafed have been put off the counter and regulated for sale because of it being a main ingredient in making methamphetamine.

One chain that has placed Coricidin behind the counter is Rite Aid. Bob Chan, pharmacy manager at the South Lake Tahoe branch, said a majority of cold medicine brands has been taken off the shelves.

Similar to cold medicines that are used for methamphetamine production, purchasers of Coricidin HBP must provide proof of age and will be limited in the number of packages they are able to buy.

Chan said Friday and Saturday nights usually bring at least one seeker of the cold medicine whose motive might be to abuse the drug.

"At least they have to come to the pharmacy to get it," Chan said.

Some South Tahoe High School students knew of the highs brought on by cough medicine. One concoction includes the mixture of Robitussin and alcohol such as vodka.

"It's like the gangster version of moonshine," said senior Rey Sanchez.

"It's supposed to be purple and thick," said Franky Meza, also a senior.

"It's a lame thing to do I'll tell you that," Meza added. "You have to be pretty desperate to get high on cough medicine."

Other students echoed Meza's sentiment. Junior Coral Warren said abusing cough medicine is for the "younger crowd."

"It tastes disgusting," she said. "The whole thing seems funny to me."

One person concerned about the trend is El Dorado County Assistant District Attorney Hans Uthe. The prosecutor has seen several youths in juvenile court who cited cough medicine abuse. Uthe said he's worried about teenagers abusing the medicine and pairing it with other drugs. Six months ago, Uthe said, he hadn't heard of Coricidin abuse."

This is something that wouldn't strike most parents as something to be concerned about," he said, adding, "It's just one more thing for parents to deal with I suppose."

By William Ferchland


Anonymous Anonymous said...

dxm is the fuckin shittttttt

1/05/2008 09:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

straight up

4/23/2008 01:18:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a ICU nurse that just harvested the organs of a brain dead teen with the 'straight up' 'Fin shit' running out of her. I hope the next person that reads this post fills out a donor card. Morons.

7/09/2008 03:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

if these kids overdosing themselves are too fucking stupid to realize their limits, that's their own damn fault.
that doesn't mean they gotta take it away!
fucking idiots.

7/17/2008 10:44:00 PM  
Anonymous alex said...

it really doesnt matter if you "know your limits" or not. this shit is dangerous. i took 16 of them two weeks ago and i'm lucky to be alive. i dont think you understand the severity of the matter. DXM may be "the fuckin shit", but it can fuck you up for life and its totally not worth it. i'm never doing it again. i didnt even have a bad trip..i just realized what i was doing to myself.

9/09/2008 11:08:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My son took 16 BOXES of this shit two nights ago and ended up in ICU after crashing his car during his overdose. He's been doing Coricidin for 4 years now. It is ruining his life and he is addicted to it. I don't know how his body and his brain have sustained all the abuse. I fear that he won't be so lucky to live next time.

11/06/2008 06:30:00 PM  
Blogger Deputy Leo said...

I've arrested multiple teens, and slightly older that have used Coricidin habitually. I just arrested a 20 YO male last night that while high on DXM he threatened a friend of his with a handgun. I wonder if while he's sitting in jail today if he still thinks DXM is the fucking Shittttt.

11/22/2008 09:17:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The use of DMX has been on the rise for years. Most parents dont know that in high doses it can be detected in urine drug analyisis using a PCP screen. These types of screens are not readily available at your local drug store but can purchased from a uatest vendor such as

1/15/2009 09:33:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Coricidin is not the shit. I did it for 4 months... and ended up in the hospital. When I first started it was a simple high, maybe 5-8 pills at a time. Then it became a lifestyle. I would do 8 pills, then maybe wait another hour and do another 8 or 9. Then it escalated from there. After so long my body became immune to it. Whereas I couldn't walk in the beginning after taking 9 pills, I was able to later walk while on 20. On the morning I ended up in the hospital I must have done close to 30 pills in a 10-12 hour period. It was such a horrible feeling. I couldn't think, my head hurt, my stomach hurt, I felt weak and confused. I kept saying, "I am going to die." And sure enough I asked my parent to bring me to the emergency because the pain and confusion was so extreme. After seeing the doctor he told me to go home and let the high wear off. As I was walking out of the hospital I apparently collapsed on a mop bucket and started having a seizure. All of this I don't remember. I spent 4 days in the hospital to be monitored. Not my idea of a good summer. Not only did I let myself down but also my family and work. It is such a horrible drug. I would say to myself, "Okay. I will stop Sunday." But never could. I have been clean for almost 4 months now (since my hospital visit) and am actually thankful for ending up in the hospital as it was a nice kick in the ass to smarten up. I am a good person and it this shows you it can happen to anyone. It is horrible and consumed my life. Please avoid it... I thought, just like any one else, that I would never end up in the hosptial... and I did.

9/16/2009 04:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am only 14 and i am addicted to coricidin. i think its the best thing in my life right now. i can escape from everything and i feels great i love it. my best friend is also addicted and so is her brother. i wish i would have never taken it. nothing extream has happened yet except for me throwing up alot and just the normal side effects i do havvee to say it is the shit! but if ur reading this and u haven't done it don't do it if u want to get high stick to reg weed

10/25/2009 09:27:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the most i tried was 6 but that was my first time though.i couldnt focus on anything i lost memory of things like on school and shit like that
but its not even that bad im not addicted to it or nothing i could stop if i wanted to its just llike a little simple high nothing else but i advise to not take more than like 11 it depends on your body since im like 5,5 and i weigh like 115 6 wasnt that much but the most ill go to is 8 so i wont end up in the hostpital and shit im not a retard i only do it once and a whil like every 2 weeks and a half maybe

1/06/2010 06:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Coricidin is so much fun! No, idiots, its not addictive. I just do it on the weekends.

3/04/2011 10:36:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

triple C's give you an amazing high, im not gonna lie. at first i started taking 6 or 8, but after constantly taking that amount your body begins to crave a higher dosage, well at least mine did...i used to take like 8 in the morning, another 6 in the afternoon & before i knew it i began taking up to 20 a day with my friends. yeah you get nautious sometimes but thats only when you take them on an empty stomach...well anyways, i quit them for about a week or so and then i took like 9 one day, i hated the feeling. it wasnt fun at all, i felt terrible. after that day i stopped for a little longer in fear of getting that same scary feeling that they
gave me before.. recently i had popped about 7 pills due to peer pressure &&i litterally thought i was going to die. my heart was beating outrageously fast and i could not walk straight for shit. and that was just off of 7. i was panicking but i kept my cool in front of my friends..obviously i survived but ever since then, i try to keep my distance from coricidin. when i do take them, i only take 4 or 5 and i get a good buz. take it from me, a 13 year old girl, dont risk it, ive seen friends go into the ER and facing death because of these pills. its scary and not worth it. i drink && smoke weed and thats deffinately way better. weed is what you need, fuck the other drugs x)

8/13/2011 12:27:00 AM  

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