Cough Medicine Abuse: Know What It Is

By Becky Posted May 04, 2007 under

Did you know that 1 in 10 teens, ages 12-17, has reported having abused cough medicine to get high? Did you know that only 8 percent of parents are aware of cough medicine abuse? I'm a D.A.R.E. officer and a school resource officer, which means I'm in the hallways and classrooms with kids all the time. And, until recently, even I didn't know the extent of the problem of cough medicine abuse among teens. I’ll be honest–it is scary that teens are intentionally taking huge amounts of medicines to get high. Cough medicine contains the ingredient dextromethorphan, a drug that is safe when taken in the correct dosage. But teens are taking 25 to 50 times the recommended dose of cough medicine, and often combining it with other drugs and alcohol. Kids use slang like “Dex,” “DXM,” “Skittlies,” and “Tussin”  to describe cough medicines. And they describe cough medicine abuse with slang like “Robo-tripping,” “Dex-ing,” “Smurfing,” and “Skittling.”  This behavior isn't limited to cough medicine alone. There are “pharming” parties now, during which teens put any medications they can find–prescription and over-the-counter–into a container and then pop pill after pill. They have no idea what drugs they're taking. Needless to say, this practice is extremely dangerous and potentially deadly. It also is preventable to a large degree.

  1. Educate yourself about the latest teen trends, including cough medicine abuse.
  2. Talk to your kids about medicine abuse.
  3. And safeguard the medications in your medicine cabinet. Know what you have and how much. And tell your neighbors and your kidss' friends' parents to do the same.

The more that you know, the better you will be able to protect your kids. Find out more about cough medicine abuse, and spread the word.