Do You Need to Worry About Items in Your Medicine Cabinet?


The answer is "YES" if you have someone age 12 to 25 living in your house. According to a 2006 survey recently released by the federal government, approximately 5 percent of people in this age group have used over-the-counter (OTC) cough or cold medicine to get high.

The main reason these medications are used to get high is that they contain the cough suppressant dextromethorphan or DMX. In recommended doses, DMX is a safe and effective ingredient. However, in large doses, it can cause hallucinations similar to the drugs PCP and ketamine. Overdoses of DMX can cause vomiting, uncontrolled violent muscle spasms, irregular heartbeat, delirium and death. DMX can be found in over 140 OTC cough and cold products. Within this age group, the abuse of DMX rivals that of LSD, methamphetamine and ecstasy. The average abuser is likely to be Caucasian, female between the ages of 12 and 17 or male between the ages of 18 and 25. After the release of the report, Dr. H. Westley Clark, director of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration stated "the survey tells me that parents need to be very concerned about the OTC medicines that they have in their medicine cabinet."

Created on January 1, 2003

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