Cough Medicine Drug Info

When it comes to prescription drug abuse by teens, cough medication is one of the easiest substances to abuse. There are pills and bottles of cough-suppressing medications in millions of homes in America and around the world. Many are over-the-counter drugs and others are prescription-only. Both can be intoxicating or even deadly in high doses.

The cough suppressants that are abused contain dextromethorphan or codeine. Codeine formulas are prescription only and dextromethorphan formulas are more easily obtained. State by state, laws are beginning to be passed making dextromethorphan formulas illegal for sale to minors, but in most states, a teen can still walk into a drugstore and walk out with a substance that will make him high and could even kill him.

Codeine Formulas

Formulas containing codeine include:

  • BrontexCapital and Codeine
  • Fiorinal with Codeine
  • Guiatussin with Codeine
  • Mytussin AC Cough Syrup
  • Robafen AC Syrup
  • Robitussin A-C Syrup
  • Tussi-Organidin-S NR
  • Tylenol with Codeine (No. 2, No. 3, No. 4)

Codeine is an opiate and so carries the same addictive and overdose dangers as hydrocodone or even heroin. A person who has abused codeine may have difficulty swallowing, may feel itchy or have changes in vision. His (or her) heart may pound. Since an opiate suppresses the breathing, he may manifest difficulty breathing or breathing may be shallow when he rests. He may also be constipated, drowsy and euphoric. The euphoria is the primary effect that is being sought by teens or adults. To get this effect, they may consume many times the safe dosage of these drugs.

While codeine is a cough suppressant, it also falls into the painkiller class - a type of drug that has been abused by one in five American teens.

Dextromethorphan Formulas

It may be harder for a parent to realize when they are purchasing a product that contains dextromethorphan. Products that contain this drug include:

  • Alka-Seltzer Plus Cold & Cough Medicine
  • Coricidin HBP Cough and Cold
  • Dimetapp DM
  • Mucinex DM tablets

Some of the over-the-counter cough preparations sold by these brands also contain dextromethorphan:

  • PediaCare
  • Robitussin
  • Sudafed
  • TheraFlu
  • Triaminic
  • Tylenol Cough and Tylenol Cold products
  • Vicks 44 Cough Relief
  • Vicks DayQuil and NyQuil LiquiCaps

It is necessary to read the list of ingredients when purchasing a brand from this list to know if it contains dextromethorphan.

There are a number of nicknames for abusing this type of cough medication. Youth may use the terms Dex, Robotripping, Skittling, Tussin, Syrup or Triple-C. Liquid preparations may be mixed with soda drinks like Mountain Dew or a person may abuse alcohol at the same time.

Those abusing this drug may take many times the recommended dose - as much as 25 to 50 times what they should take – in order to get a high. According to users, the phenomena of being high from this drug have different plateaus. The effects start with mild changes of perceptions including colors and sound, and range all the way up to hallucinations and severe dissociation, meaning a person is out of touch with his body and his own identity.

Common effects of this type of drug abuse include confusion, dizziness, stomach pain, numb extremities and disorientation.

Preventing Substance Abuse of Cough Medicine

There are two primary ways to prevent abuse of these products. Both are important. The first is to secure any of these products in the home. There are locking medicine chests available from home improvement stores. Even keeping these preparations in a small locked box or locked file cabinet is better than leaving them out in the open. If your child would never touch these products, they will have friends over who might be tempted, or relatives or workers in the home could gain access to them.

The other important action to take is to educate young people on the dangers of abusing these drugs. Both codeine and dextromethorphan can cause death when an overdose is consumed in search of that high.

For the person who is already addicted to medications like dextromethorphan or codeine, the Narconon drug rehabilitation program offers an effective method of recovery. In some 40 locations around the world, those who lost the power of choice in the matter of drug abuse can find lasting sobriety.

The Narconon program never uses any drugs as part of treatment. Instead, nutrition is used as a support for mood and to help the body get rid of residual drug toxins resulting in a brighter outlook and lower cravings. Life skills are taught to enable a person to gain control of actions and decisions again. Find out how this program can help rescue someone you care about.


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