Most people know about the dangers of alcohol and illegal drug abuse. What they may be less aware of is the dangers of everyday household items which can be used for getting high – for example things like nail polish remover or deodorant sprays can be used for this purpose. These substances can be particularly tempting to young people who are determined to get inebriated but are unable to do so legally, and have limited finances. Another source for potential recreational drug abuse is over the counter medication – things like cough syrup. The abuse of these substances is on the rise. The fact that such medications are usually viewed as harmless means that lives are in danger.
The reason why individuals will use cough medicine recreationally is because many of these syrups contains dextromethorphan (DMX). This chemical is helpful because it suppresses those signals in the brain that trigger the cough reflex, but it also has other less therapeutic effects. If the individual consumes sufficient dextromethorphan they will experience euphoria and hallucinations – in other words people can use this substance to get high. DMX is a powerful psychoactive drug. This means that it changes the way the mind works. This chemical can also be found in other over-the-counter cold and flu remedies.
There are a number of ways that dextromethorphan can be abused. Some people will simply drink bottles of cough medicine until they get high. Other people mix it with soda drinks to make it more palatable. It is also possible to soak marijuana in the syrup. Some people even inject themselves with a DMX extract for a more intense high.
Dextromethorphan can be referred to by a number of different names including:
* Poor Man’s PCP
* Triple C
* Vitamin D
* Red Devils
There are a number of reasons for why people would choose to use cough medicine such as:
* The majority of those who abuse cough medicine will be teenagers. They may have easy access to this type of drug.
* It is a legal hallucinogenic drug. Adults can usually just go into a drug store and buy it without any prescription – except if they live in Sweden, Latvia, or Estonia.
* It is a relatively cheap way to get high. It costs much less than alcohol or illegal drugs.
* Young people tend to be more easily influenced by peer pressure. If their friends are using this drug then they may feel obliged to do the same.
* Some alcoholics enjoy the effect of mixing dextromethorphan with alcohol. Some will do this because they are short of money and wish to get inebriated cheaply.
* The fact that it is usually legal and easy to buy dextromethorphan means that people assume that it is safe to abuse. This naïve assumption has lead to great suffering and even deaths.
The effects of taking dextromethorphan can include:
* Auditory hallucinations
* Distorted visual perceptions
* The individual can feel disassociated from their body -almost like they are on the outside looking in. These out of body experiences can be one of the reasons why people enjoy the drug.
* Hyper excitability
* Slurred speech
* Some people will experience hot or cold flashes.
* Increased heart rate.
* It can lead to memory disturbances.
* Some individuals will sweat after consuming this drug.
* Some people will develop constipation after taking this substance.
* Numbness in the fingers and toes.
* Blurry vision
* Dry and itchy skin
There are a number of real dangers associated with cough medicine abuse include:
* It can lead to nausea and vomiting.
* Those who abuse this substance over a period of time can develop a physical and psychological addiction. This means that they will suffer withdrawal symptoms if they try to stop or reduce their consumption of the drug.
* It can lead to a high fever. If the individual is already in a hot environment it could put their life in danger.
* Once people are addicted to dextromethorphan it can be difficult for them to stop. Some will fall deep into addiction, and it will cause great suffering for them and those close to them.
* Sometimes people can experience seizures or lose consciousness.
* It can cause people to become paranoid and possibly even aggressive as a result.
* Some individuals may have a severe allergic reaction to the drug.
* There are some individuals who react to the drug by becoming highly anxious. This can lead them to experience panic attacks.
* It can lead to urinary retention. This means that the individual is unable to urinate and will need to be catheterized in hospital.
* It can trigger psychotic episodes.
* It interferes with the ability of people to make good decisions. This may put their life in danger.
* It can interfere with other medications such as antidepressants leading to undesirable side effects. Mixing cough medicine with the wrong drug could potentially lead to death.
* It can cause sexual dysfunction.
* People have died as a result of this substance. One of the most well known examples of this would be the rapper Pimp C.
* It can lead to symptoms of depression. It may even drive some people to commit suicide.
* It can cause blood pressure to reach dangerously high levels.
* Some of these medications can lead to liver damage if they are abused – particularly those that contain acetaminophen.
* Abuse of this drug could lead to permanent brain damage.
* An overdose can lead to serious health consequences or death. The individual does not need to be using this drug for a long time before they create lasting damage in their bodies.
It is suggested that up to 3 million teenagers are abusing over-the-counter medication and for the majority of these youngsters it will be cough medicine that they turn to. In fact 75% of the people who use cough medicine to get high are between 9 and 17 years of age. It is a real worry. Abusing these substances can be particularly dangerous to young people because:
* These individuals are still developing mentally and physically. Abusing cough medicine can interfere with normal development in adolescence.
* It interferes with the ability of young people to do well in school. This may mean that their future opportunities will be limited as a result of this.
* It can increase the risk of teen suicide.
* Abuse of cough syrup is usually a stepping stone to illegal drugs. Those young people who abuse this medication may be embarking on a lifelong path through substance abuse.
* Young people who are involved in any type of substance abuse are more likely to become addicts in later life.
* If young people overdose on this drug it can severely damage their health and may even cause their death.
* Teenagers who are abusing these substances may be self medicating psychological problems. This means that the underlying problem is not being treated, and the individual is making the situation much worse.
There can be a number of signs and symptoms associated with cough medicine abuse including:
* The individual always seems to be using or buying cough medicine even though they don’t have a cough.
* Parents find empty cough medicine bottles in their child’s room or elsewhere in the house.
* The individual has lost interest in other activities they previously enjoyed.
* Secretive or dishonest behavior.
* Dextromethorphan can sometimes cause a rash to develop on the body. An unexplained rash could be the sign of this type of abuse.
* Cough medication appears to have gone missing from the home or the bottle is empty even though nobody in the house has a cough.
* The individual is suddenly performing less well at work or school.
* There has been a noticeable decline in personal hygiene and grooming.
* They appear to be having hallucinations.
* They appear intoxicated.
* Dilated pupils can be the sign that the individual is high.
* The individual is overly chatty. They may also be saying things that do not really make sense.
* There may be an unusual chemical smell in their room or on their clothes.
* Mood swings – the individual seems to fluctuate between being excited and depressed.
* They have started hanging around with a new group of people. The individual seems to have lost interest in some of their older friends without any real explanation.
* They act defensively when any questions are raised about their odd behavior.
* Stealing money or valuable.
* The individual will often have slurred speech after they have used this drug.
* Young people who are using words like robo, skittles, or triple C may be referring to dextromethorphan.
* The individual has started visiting different drug stores to buy cough medicine. They may even be willing to travel to a distant town so that their excessive purchases of cough medicine are not noticed.