Teenage Drug Culture

Robitussin Directions: Do not take more than 4 doses in a 24-hour period, adults and children 12 years and over take 2 teaspoonfuls ever 4 hours.

Instead of following these simple directions, abusers are drinking entire bottles at a time and getting high off of the active ingredient, dextromethorphan or DXM. The effects resemble that of taking LSD.

Coming from the word Robitussin, it is sometimes called robo-tripping or tussing.

Taking the cough suppressants in pill form is often called skittling because they resemble the candy Skittles. The Coricidin HBP Cough & Cold tablets are refered to as Triple C's. This new fad is reaching kids as young as 12.

Taking cough suppressants for fun has resulted in at least five deaths in the past two years. Abusers are often kids who think they aren't doing anything wrong. By taking a legal medication, they do not feel like they are a drug addict.

“Within the pediatric upper respiratory market, the cough/cold and flu category makes up 78 percent of the entire category,” according to McNeil Consumer Healthcare's assistant marketing manager Christine Doria.

With this in mind, it is easy to see how Wyeth Consumer Healthcare, makers of Robitussin, is the third-largest over-the-counter health care product company in the world. Their sales in 2003 grossed approximately $2.4 billion. Robitussin is among the top dozen selling consumer health care brands in the world.

An issue that has become aparent with this new trend is the fact that not only can kids buy this drug legally and cheap, they can do it without their parents knowing. When a 14 year old girl's mom finds marijuana in her backpack, she knows there is a problem. But when she sees cough suppressants in her daughter's medicine cabinet, she wont think twice about it. This is why so many kids are overdosing and their parents never knew there was a problem until it was too late.

A stigma that comes along with drug use is that it only occurs in bad neighborhoods or in families with problems. This is not the case for any drug use, and is especially wrong in the case of abusing cough medicine. The kids taking this to get high are your average middle class honor roll child.

According to an article in USA today, one example of this problem occurred in Naples Florida , in which a 13-year-old girl brought 80 pills to school and gave some out to her friends. Each friend took at least 5 even though the recommended dose for adults is only 1 every 6 hours. This excessive amount caused 2 of these girl's friends to lose consciousness in class. The girl who gave out the drugs said she did it because she thought it would be fun to feel messed up and act drunk. 1

The active ingredient DXM taken in appropriate doses is safe and has few side effects. The side effects of abusing DXM include, but are not limited to: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, confusion, poor coordination, rapid heart rate and dizziness. At very high doses, DXM can cause the inability to move arms or legs, problems trying to talk, slowed breathing and even death (from stopped breathing).

A major question this brings up is: Is it good that not many people know about this form of high? One the positive side, if few people know they can get high from cough suppressants, then few people will actually be getting high from them. But on the negative side, parents are not on the lookout for it. The main way of people get more information about it is through the internet. It has not seeped its way into our movies and music yet, which spread the word and more than likely influence more people to try it.

Better known drugs such as marijuana and alcohol are having a larger affect on youth. According to data from the 2002 National Household Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), within the last 12 months 71.5% of high school seniors used alcohol and 36.2% used marijuana. 87.2% said they could obtain marijuana easily and this is counting only those who would admit it.

In 1999 the availability of drugs reported was not limited to troubled youth or particular parts of town. 38.4% of Public school students reported they could easily get drugs compared to 22.4% in private schools. 39.5% resided in suburban areas, 33.7% in urban areas and 34.3% in rural areas.

There will always be differing views on how the law should handle drug use. Previous President Jimmy Carter once said, "Penalties against drug use should not be more damaging to an individual than the use of the drug itself. Nowhere is this more clear than in the laws against the possession of marijuana in private for personal use."

Drug use in the United States is dealt with very strictly. Each state has their own individual laws to deal with certain drug offenses. Marijuana is a perfect example of how the states differ drastically. In California , the longest time of incarceration of marijuana sale is 5 years with no fine penalty. In Texas the longest time of incarceration is 99 years with a fine of $100,000.

Other countries differ in their laws as well. Many European countries are more lax about penalties. In Amsterdam there are over a hundred coffee shops that sell marijuana. While this is illegal, law enforcement says that soft-drug prevention is not of high priority. If there were more than 30 grams of soft-drugs or any evidence of hard-drugs (such as heroin, cocaine and LSD ) or disturbances, then officials would close the place down.

Obviously marijuana and other drugs have penalties attached to them, but are their any laws about cough suppressants? No. Since DXM is perfectly legal and is exempted from federal drug laws, there will be no arrests, as of now, for selling Robitussin.

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