Local teens have alerted Lincoln City Homepage to the growing abuse of an over-the-counter cough & cold medication that causes hallucinogenic effects when taken in large doses.
Coricidin HBP Cough & Cold is a decongestant-free cold relief medicine for people with high blood pressure that is not regulated by the federal government under the Controlled Substances Act.
According to the teens, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, “Skittles” –a street name given for Coricidin’s cough medicine in pill form– can be bought without a prescription or stolen off the shelf.
“I know someone who stole a bunch of it and has been popping them like candy to fry balls,” one sixteen-year-old said. “He said the high lasts about six hours and asked me if I wanted to trip and I was like, no way.”
“I’ve been seeing the packages all over the ground,” A fifteen-year-old said. “It’s pretty bad because my friends have been taking it. They get crazy. It’s not good. One of my friends has been taking it for three days straight.”
“There’s about 20 people doing it right now,” says a 14-year-old. “Parents need to know. It’s sad to see.”
Triple C –as the teens call it– can be swallowed or snorted to create hallucinations, slurred speech, poor muscle control, dizziness and paranoia. Coricidin HBP comes in a variety of formulas and can be dangerous when abused. Effects can range from stomach pain and nausea to irregular heartbeat and brain damage. Symptoms of a DXM overdose include breathing problems, increase in body temperature, intense hallucinations, seizures and coma.
Recent studies of long-term use of DXM point to insomnia and a general dissatisfaction with life.
Repeatedly taking high doses of dextromethorphan can cause toxic psychosis, a mental condition in which a person loses contact with reality. – American Addiction Centers
Local supermarkets, including McKay’s, Bi-Mart, Walgreens and Safeway, said they are aware of the potential abuse of Coricidin Cough & Cold and have measures in place to prevent the sale to minors, such as having age verification pop up on registers when the product is scanned.
Walgreen’s store manager Courtney Ebarb said she was concerned about the reports and would bring up the issue in a staff meeting. She said Walgreens staff would “keep an eye out” and possibly put the medication behind glass.
“We don’t keep a large supply because of things like this,” Ebarb said. “In the 16 years I have worked for Walgreens we have always checked IDs for people buying this medication who are 18 and younger.”
All stores contacted said they didn’t keep large quantities due to the possibility for abuse and were unaware of stolen or missing product at the time of publication.
DXM was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1958 as a safe and effective cough suppressant and the recreational abuse started shortly after.
In 2009, the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s Monitoring the Future Survey found that 6 percent of high school seniors had abused DXM. DXM abuse leads to approximately 6000 emergency room visits each year with half due to abuse by those aged 12 to 25 years.
According to the National Poison Control Center, calls to Poison Control regarding DXM have increased dramatically since 2006.