The Ocean City Police Department is warning citizens of an over-the-counter cold medicine which has become a popular drug for juveniles and young adults. The medicine, known as coricidin or chlorpheniramine, is taken orally to treat the common cold. Also known as Dextromethorphan (or “DXM”), coricidin is a cough-suppressing ingredient in a variety of cold medications. Depending on the dose, DXM’s effects may vary.
Dextromethorphan is a safe and effective cough suppressant when used as indicated on the product label. However, when taken in doses that far exceed the amount recommended, the ingredient may produce feelings of euphoria that some seek to get “high.” A teenager looking to get high or experiment with drugs may turn to over-the -counter cough and cold preparations that contain dextromethorphan because they are readily available at home or the local drug store. Dextromethorphan can also be purchased in a bulk powder form on the Internet. Some websites encourage teenagers to abuse dextromethorphan and actually offer “recipes” for the best way to achieve a high.
The misuse of the drug creates both depressant and mild hallucinogenic effects. Users report a set of distinct dose-dependent “plateaus” ranging from a mild stimulant effect with distorted visual perceptions at low doses to a sense of complete disassociation from one’s body. If a child consumes large doses of a product containing dextromethorphan, it may cause a number of adverse effects, including impaired judgment and mental performance, loss of coordination, dizziness, nausea, hot flashes, disassociation and hallucinations.
Parents should be concerned if you notice that your child is taking excessive amounts of a cold and flu remedy, or if he or she continues to take medicine even after symptoms have subsided. Likewise, if cough and cold medications seem to disappear from the medicine cabinet or if you find packages of cough and cold preparations in the child’s room or backpack, he or she may be abusing the product.
In order to help prevent the abuse of dextromethorphan, parents should be mindful of children who are using medication outside of cold and flu season. In addition, check and frequently inventory your medicine cabinets, monitor your child’s internet use and talk to your kids about drug abuse. Additional prevention techniques include knowing your child’s friends and their parents and monitoring your child’s outside activities and whereabouts.