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Default 03-01-2005, 08:47 AM

Cough and cold medicines have become a cheap and legal, but not harmless, way to get high.
SHERYL UBELACKER, CP 2005-02-28 02:58:01


A TV ad shows two teenage girls yelling "Robitussin" as a gesundheit for coughs. But in some adolescent circles, talk of the over-the-counter cold medication has a whole different meaning. Cough and cold medicines like Robitussin, Coricidin and Contac -- whether in bottled syrups or blister-packaged pills -- have become a cheap, easy and legal way for some teens to get high.

In fact, the growing use in North America of these drug-store stalwarts has spawned a whole new lexicon, including "robotripping" and popping "Skittles," "Red Devils" and "Triple Cs," the latter the street term for Coricidin Cough and Cold. Those who take them for a high are called "syrup heads."

All these non-prescription remedies contain dextromethorphan, or DXM, a cough suppressant chemically related to morphine, a potent narcotic. Fuelled by word of mouth and Internet how-to manuals, some teens are guzzling cough syrup or downing a handful of tablets to get their "dex" hit.

"One of the classic things is they can get it easy enough, it's not illegal, a lot of people have it in their medicine cabinets," says Bruce Ballon, a psychiatrist who specializes in youth substance abuse at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto. ''It's not like you have to get alcohol underage or get cannabis, you can just go off and buy cough syrup."

But the dangers of taking many times the recommended adult dosage of these decongestants and antihistamines must not be sneezed at, doctors say.

"Taking any medication in a different way than it's meant to be taken means that you're putting yourself at risk for all kinds of complications," says Dr. Karen Leslie, a pediatrician specializing in adolescent medicine at Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children.

While the goal may be achieving the euphoria, dream-like state and mind-body dissociation reportedly caused by DXM -- robotripping refers not just to the brand name, but also to a robot-like sensation -- it comes at a price. Adverse short-term effects can range from nausea and vomiting to body itching, fever and loss of balance to an irregular heartbeat and hallucinations. Over time, DXM abuse may lead to liver or brain damage.

And ingested at megadoses, the drugs are a prescription for really serious trouble: seizures, psychosis, coma -- even death.

There has been a rash of deaths among U.S. teens who overdosed on DXM products in the last few years. Statistics on overdoses and deaths are not available for Canada.

Leslie says abusing DXM products along with other substances, such as alcohol, can be even more dangerous, since the depressive effects of booze can mask the buzz from the DXM and other cough-and-cold stimulants.

"So if you're drinking and taking DXM, the alcohol might make it seem like the DXM isn't doing enough, so you might take more DXM, and then you run the risk of actually overdosing."

Cough and cold remedies aren't the only off-the-shelf medications abused. Some adolescents Leslie sees tell her they take products to help them sleep, calm anxiety or just make them feel better.

Painkillers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen fall in the latter category, although Leslie says she thinks the good feelings teens experience are merely a placebo -- or psychological -- effect.

Some young people take them for tension headaches, but there, too, they can have repercussions if taken too frequently, which causes rebound headaches. A 2004 study at a Cleveland, Ohio, headache clinic found more than 20 per cent of 680 children aged six to 18 were overusing these garden-variety painkillers. Some of the patients suffered kidney failure or intestinal bleeding because of all the medication they were taking -- in some cases, up to 20 times a week.

Also, children under 19 should never take ASA, a drug found in Aspirin and other headache products, because it has been linked to potentially deadly Reye's syndrome, a condition that can arise following a viral infection such as the flu or chickenpox.

When it comes to more serious substance abuse, Ballon says most of the teens he counsels are into cannabis and other illicit drugs or alcohol. Off-the-shelf medications are just occasional bonbons added to the mix. Only a few of the adolescents he has treated cited getting hooked on DXM as their primary concern.

And within the hierarchical drug culture, there are certainly no bragging rights for being a syrup head, he says.

"There's also some embarrassment around this one," says Ballon. ''The robotrippers who use the DXM, they usually keep it in the closet. It's not like it's a popular thing to say, 'Look at me. I use cough syrup.' "

DEXTROMETHORPHAN

What is it?

A synthetic drug chemically similar to the narcotics morphine and codeine. Nicknames include Robo, Triple Cs, Rojo, Skittles, Dex, Tussin. Abuse is called robotripping, tussing or dexing. Users are called syrup heads or robotards.

What is it used for?

Drug manufacturers began using DXM in cough syrups in the 1970s to replace codeine as a cough suppressant. It's now in more than 100 over-the-counter cough and cold remedies.

What does it do?

At normal doses, controls coughs. At megadoses, creates effects similar to the illicit drugs PCP or the anesthetic ketamine.

What adverse affects can it have?

Sweating, fever, dry mouth, dry, itchy skin, nausea, stomach pain, vomiting, racing or irregular heart beat, high blood pressure, delusions, hallucinations, seizures, coma, death.

How much is too much?

The recommended dose for adults is 15 to 30 milligrams, every six to eight hours, not to exceed 120 milligrams daily. Mind-altering effects can occur with a single dose of 100 milligrams. Some abusers ingest enough pills or syrup for a dose of 240 to 360 milligrams.

How can I tell if someone is abusing DXM?

Be aware if someone is taking cough syrup or cough and cold pills after symptoms of a cold or flu are over or if they're using them outside cold and flu season. Watch to see if someone has a large supply of DXM-containing products. Be on the lookout for signs of abuse, such as slurred speech, sweating, confusion or nausea and vomiting.

http://www.canoe.ca/NewsStand/LondonFreePr...944840-sun.html
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libel Offline
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Default 03-01-2005, 09:00 AM

well written article. but embraces the label of SENSATIONALISM.
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n__u Offline
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Default 03-01-2005, 11:23 AM

Almost every article about DXM in the news nowadays about DXM deserves that label. As a journalist, you're supposed to show both sides of the argument.

Go Peter Jennings.
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canjodion85 Offline
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Default 03-01-2005, 12:56 PM

Quote:
Originally posted by nu_@Mar 1 2005, 11:23 AM
Almost every article about DXM in the news nowadays about DXM deserves that label. As a journalist, you're supposed to show both sides of the argument.

Go Peter Jennings.
Go peter jennings?
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Sgt.Pilcher Offline
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Default 03-01-2005, 01:17 PM

At least the writer was informed.


<span style=\'font-size:11pt;line-height:100%\'>The intelligent man finds almost everything ridiculous, the sensible man almost nothing. </span>
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Default 03-01-2005, 02:57 PM

Quote:
"So if you're drinking and taking DXM, the alcohol might make it seem like the DXM isn't doing enough, so you might take more DXM, and then you run the risk of actually overdosing."
if someone can drink booze, and then swallow more robogels or chug more syrup, without throwing up 5 seconds later, then they have the stomach of god.
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Default 03-01-2005, 04:26 PM

Quote:
Originally posted by canjodion85+Mar 1 2005, 12:56 PM--></span><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (canjodion85 @ Mar 1 2005, 12:56 PM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'> <!--QuoteBegin--nu_@Mar 1 2005, 11:23 AM
Almost every article about DXM in the news nowadays about DXM deserves that label. As a journalist, you're supposed to show both sides of the argument.

Go Peter Jennings.
Go peter jennings? [/b][/quote]
He produced a balanced report on MDMA recently.


<lucid|ril|aniracetam> " identify your personal god to help you master your horrible disease, junkie "

<lHunter_S_Thompson> but hey who needs facts when your in the global warming eugenics jihad

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i am the najavo
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Default 03-01-2005, 04:57 PM

Quote:
some teens are guzzling cough syrup or downing a handful of tablets to get their "dex" hit.
fuck yeah i guzzle syrup. scratch tablets i thought they were pills. when did it become a 'hit'?
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Default 03-01-2005, 08:30 PM

Goddamnit I hate to see this kind of shit... Too many stupid fucks giving DXM a bad name for the more responsible people.


Practially every one of the top 40 records being played on every radio station in the United States is a communication to the children to take a trip, to cop out, to groove. The psychedelic jackets on the record albums have their own hidden symbols and messages as well as the lyrics to all the top rock songs and they all sing the same refrain: It's fun to take a trip, put acid in your veins.
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Default 03-01-2005, 10:14 PM

Quote:
Originally posted by thomasKMFDM+Mar 1 2005, 04:26 PM--></span><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (thomasKMFDM @ Mar 1 2005, 04:26 PM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'>
Quote:
Originally posted by [email protected] 1 2005, 12:56 PM
<!--QuoteBegin--nu_
Quote:
@Mar 1 2005, 11:23 AM
Almost every article about DXM in the news nowadays about DXM deserves that label. As a journalist, you're supposed to show both sides of the argument.

Go Peter Jennings.

Go peter jennings?
He produced a balanced report on MDMA recently. [/b][/quote]
Oh yeah, I remember that shit.
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