The Dextroverse

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Default 01-12-2008, 11:05 PM

Household drugs and chemicals being misused by teenagers

Bismarck Tribune
Overdosing on illicit drugs can put teenagers in intensive care, with tubes stuck down their throats and no idea how they got in those hospital beds. But Dr. Kevin Mickelson and Bismarck Police School Resource Officer Perry Lauer know that substances more commonly found in homes can have the same result.

Though alcohol remains the number-one substance abused by adolescents in the Bismarck-Mandan area, teenagers also use other easily obtained substances, such as over-the-counter cough and cold medications, household cleaning products and prescription medications, to get high or alter their perceptions of reality.

Mickelson and Lauer said such ways of getting high are not new trends.

“It kind of goes in spurts,” Lauer said.

The substances also change, Mickelson said. Huffing spray paint was big a few years ago. Lauer said using compressed air, such as in dust removers or empty whipped cream containers, is more of a problem now.

“They’re just kind of reinventing things used in the past,” Mickelson said.


Dextromethorphan, a cough suppressant, is the active ingredient in many other cough and cold medications, such as Robitussin and Coricidin HBP Cough and Cold. Overdoses of medications containing dextromethorphan can bring on feelings similar to being drunk or high. The drug gives people altered perceptions of reality and can cause hallucinations.

“It gives them kind of an odd, goofy kind of high,” Mickelson said. “The kids use them because they distort their reality.”

Staggering, dilated pupils, slurred or pressured speech, lethargy and unusual excitability are included among the symptoms of dextromethorphan use, he said. The drug can act as a central nervous system depressant and can bring on seizures. It can cause vomiting, and the vomiting can lead to air-way compromise, Mickelson said.

“They just screw with your brain,” he said.

Overdoses of dextromethorphan can cause death, as can overdoses of some of the other ingredients in medications that contain dextromethorphan. For instance, some cold medications also contain acetaminophen, which can cause death in high doses, Mickelson said.

People find recommended dosages to reach highs on the Internet, but those dosages do not explain that people metabolize drugs differently and adding other drugs to the equation can change the effects. An amount that one person uses to reach a high might kill another person, Mickelson said.

“That’s just truly a recipe for disaster,” he said.

Misuse of products containing dextromethorphan has been a problem for many years, but Lauer recently has seen an “upswing” in the number of adolescents police deal with who are using Coricidin. Robitussin abuse, also a continued problem, hasn’t been as prevalent lately, he said.

People in rehabilitation programs for alcoholism and other chemical dependency issues may use dextromethorphan instead, he said.

“They still get a buzz,” he said.

Mickelson believes use of dextromethorphan and marijuana may be increasing because the substances will not show up on breathalyzer tests, so teenagers use it before going to school dances where breath tests are given at the door.

Bismarck police have dealt with two cases in the past weeks of stores apprehending teens stealing Coricidin HBP Cough and Cold. Some pharmacies have moved the products behind the counter because of shoplifting concerns.

Pat Churchill, a pharmacist at Thrifty White Drug in Mandan and the director of the North Dakota Board of Pharmacy’s prescription drug monitoring program, said Coricidin is an oft abused drug that has been moved behind the counter at her practice after empty containers of Coricidin and other dextromethorphan drugs were found in the parking lot.

Young people often come in trying to buy several packages of the products at a time, but the pharmacy tries to prevent multiple sales of the products, as well as sales to minors.

Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem sponsored a bill in the 2003 legislative session to ban the sales of medications containing dextromethorphan to minors. The bill was defeated in the House of Representatives. Liz Brocker, a spokesperson for the attorney general’s office, said the issue has not been raised since that time.

Churchill said requiring pharmacies to put the dextromethorphan products behind the counter, as is done with methamphetamine-precursors pseudoephedrine and ephedrine, may not work either, because people continue to find new medications to abuse.

“Everything’s going to be back there,” she said. “Every time you turn around, they find something else (to abuse).”

Compressed air and household items

Lauer often finds empty cans of compressed-air products, such as dust removers, in alleys and neighborhoods around schools in Bismarck. In November, an 18-year-old man was charged with driving under the influence and inhalation of vapors after nearly striking an apartment building. Officers found a can of dust remover on the vehicle’s passenger seat, and they believe he was high.

Lauer also said he has caught groups of kids with empty dust remover cans in their pockets, and they’ve admitted to him they’ve been huffing it.

Abusing compressed air is similar to huffing products like spray paint, Mickelson said. The compressed air contains hydrocarbons, and the use of such products causes a short euphoria.

“It’s kind of a short-lived high,” Lauer said.

It can cause central nervous system depression, seizures, lethargy, unconsciousness and cardiac arrhythmias, Mickelson said. The substances can cause death after one use. Repeated uses can cause memory loss and personality changes.

Though he hasn’t seen it for awhile, Lauer said use of empty aerosol whipped cream cans in huffing, called “whippits,” also is a concern. The cans use nitrous oxide to propel the products out of the cans, and after the can is empty, people huff the chemical, also known as laughing gas.

Lauer said parents often aren’t aware of the abuse of such products, and the signs of use are a “little tougher to find” because of the short time period associated with the high on it.

Mickelson also sees patients who abuse other household products. People tap hair spray bottles, pour the product onto bread and eat it. They drink rubbing alcohol, which can cause severe gastrointestinal problems, he said.

“You can abuse almost anything,” he said.

Prescription drugs and alcohol

Prescription drugs also see high abuse levels, Mickelson said.

People snort crushed pain medications; they lick fentanyl patches or melt the patches and inject them into their veins, Mickelson said. Any abuse of the products can cause death quickly, he said.

“A lot of the young kids seem to think that because they are prescription drugs they’re not dangerous,” Churchill said.

She said there has been an escalation of abuse of prescription drugs by teenagers in the last five years. To combat it, the North Dakota Legislature in 2005 passed a bill to start a prescription drug monitoring program. Churchill, the program’s director, said the money recently became available to start the program.

Now, when a prescription for a controlled substance is filled, information about the person filling it is entered into a database. Doctors, pharmacists and law enforcement officials can request to view the information if abuse is suspected. Churchill said the program aims to stop people from filling prescriptions at multiple pharmacies and using multiple doctors to get prescriptions.

“I think maybe this will help,” she said.

Mickelson said alcohol remains the most-abused substance in the area. Several people per weekend get brought into the emergency room for alcohol poisoning or related problems, he said.

“Alcohol is by far the most widely abused legal substance,” he said.

People who take several shots of high-alcohol content drinks, such as Everclear — pure grain alcohol, can be rendered unconscious quickly after drinking it.

Drinking large quantities of alcohol can cause alcohol poisoning, but even just reaching a point of intoxication can be problematic, Mickelson said. The emergency room sees cases where people drink, or take other substances, to the point that their senses are distorted.

It’s not unusual for drunk or high people to wander out in the cold during this time of year and be brought in with various stages of hypothermia, Mickelson said. Sometimes people engage in “paradoxical undressing,” where they have the sensation that they are warm and begin taking off clothes, despite being in extreme cold temperatures.

Lauer advises parents to be aware of their children’s actions. Finding empty pill boxes or empty dust remover should be a signal.

“Keep an eye on your kids,” he said. “See what they have in their cars and in their rooms.”
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Default 01-13-2008, 12:51 AM

hairspray + bread = high?
now im curious but unfortunatly dont have any bread!
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Migbee Offline
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Default 01-13-2008, 12:52 PM

Originally posted by drdªv€@Jan 12 2008, 11:05 PM
“They just screw with your brain,” he said.
well put, doctor dipshit

you would think that these people could give you some scientific analysis instead of some dick telling me that dxm affects my brain chemistry. duhhhh :rudy_the_white:

The active ingredient in some common cold and cough medications is dextromethorphan or DXM. That's what makes kids high.
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Liam Offline
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Default 01-14-2008, 08:39 AM

It makes me sad that they specifically said these kinds of sites don't give warnings about the dangers of abuse...

We drink in moderation,
And never ever ever get rolling drunk.
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Default 01-19-2008, 08:59 AM

Mickelson believes use of dextromethorphan and marijuana may be increasing because the substances will not show up on breathalyzer tests, so teenagers use it before going to school dances where breath tests are given at the door.
Yeah, that's why...

"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated." ~ Mahatma Gandhi
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Default 01-21-2008, 12:33 AM

Theres something inherently wrong with a place required to give breath tests at the door of school dances. Sounds like the problem isn't the drugs, but the boredom that drives kids to do things like get wasted before a dance.

And... WTF are you doing at a SCHOOL DANCE if you're a stoner? Losers. Further proof these kids are bored RETARDED and eager to get a quick buzz off whatever.


“They just screw with your brain,” he said.
Yeah, umm, you know what else screws with brains?

Alcohol, television, celebrity worship, the internet, optical illusions, dreams, delusions, prescribed medications, politics, elections, commercials, billboards, driving long distances, over-caffeination, Red Line energy drink, New Age horseshit, etc, etc, etc...

American culture is based on screwing with brains. Open your beady little pig-eyes, jerkasses and really take a long hard look at everything you call Reality.

"Some men see things as they are and say why... I dream of things that never were and say why not." - George Bernard Shaw
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