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It may seem like a harmless remedy for a sore throat, but cough syrup can be dangerous, even life-threatening when abused.


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Dextromethorphan DXM is a common ingredient found in many cough and cold remedies. It helps stop a cough.

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Parents and caretakers might be surprised to find out that some of the most commonly misused drugs by teenagers and young adults are the cough and cold medicines that are sitting in their own medicine cabinet. Some cough and cold medicines contain codeine, promethazine, dextromethorphan DXM and other narcotics that can make people feel high or relaxed.

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Store brands of these cough and cold medicines, such as Wal-Tussin and Wal-Flu, also contain high-inducing drugs. Many young people take large amounts of cough syrup and other cold medicines to experience these effects. Ina University of Michigan study found that 3 percent of teens used cough syrups to get high in the year.

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Teens and young adults also abuse them because of the common but false perception that they are safe. When these drugs are abused, they can be highly dangerous and cause damage to the brain, heart, nervous system and other vital organs. Sometimes young people mix cough syrup with soda, alcohol or other substances. Street names for these mixtures include:.

Codeine, promethazine, dextromethorphan and other drugs found in cough syrups produce various powerful effects.

Cough & cold medicine abuse

They can severely slow down the central nervous systembrain, heart, lungs and other vital organs. When someone takes a narcotic cold medicine in a way other than directed, they may experience any of the following effects:. Also, because some of these medications include acetaminophen, they can cause serious damage to the liver.

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Many people who abuse OTC medications do so habitually, which can lead to physical dependence and addiction. The effects of these drugs can be similar to alcohol, resulting in unsafe driving or equipment operation. They can also cause hallucination, vision problems and irrational behavior.

How should this medicine be used?

Abuse of cough and cold medicines is also associated with a higher risk of alcohol abuse and illegal drug use. Many emergency room visits connected with cough medicines involve mixing the drugs with another substance such as alcohol, which can be dangerous and even fatal. Most young people simply take much larger-than-recommended quantities of these medicines in pill or liquid form. In some cases, they create a solution from the liquid form of these medicines and inject it.

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Teens and young adults sometimes mix cough medicines with alcoholic drinks, soda or energy drinks. Parents should be on the lookout for s of addiction to DXM and codeine cough syrup because the effects may not be as obvious as those of other drugs, and because these drugs are so easy for young people to obtain.

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Here are some red flags to watch for:. Many families who have gone through this situation have gotten the help they needed and come out on the other side just fine.

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Sandstone Care is highly experienced in treating youth struggling with cough syrup addiction and other substance and behavioral issues. Give us a call anytime at to learn how we can help you.

Why is this medication prescribed?

We are available 7 days a week to help answer any questions. Young Adults.

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Cough Syrup Abuse. Narcotic Effects of Cough Syrup and Other Cold Medicines Codeine, promethazine, dextromethorphan and other drugs found in cough syrups produce various powerful effects.

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Stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhea Increase or decrease in blood pressure Rise in body temperature, sweating Lack of motor control Lethargy Irregular heartbeat Loss of memory Hyperactivity Changes in vision Slurred speech Hallucinations Coma. How Cough and Cold Medicines are Misused Most young people simply take much larger-than-recommended quantities of these medicines in pill or liquid form. s of Codeine, Promethazine and Dextromethorphan DXM Addiction Parents should be on the lookout for s of addiction to DXM and codeine cough syrup because the effects may not be as obvious as those of other drugs, and because these drugs are so easy for young people to obtain.

Why do kids abuse cough syrup?

A drop in grades; a loss of interest in school Empty medicine bottles in trash, backpack or locker New friends Mood swings Isolation for example, long periods of time alone in room Missing or unable decrease in medicine from your medicine cabinet A change in appearance or hygiene A ificant change in appetite or weight Changes in sleeping patterns Secrecy Need for money Chemical smells on your teen or in their room Unsubstantiated claims of cough, cold or other illness. Make sure your concerns are based on evidence. Talk to the person involved. Find a good time to approach your child and bring up the issue in a non-threatening way.

Do your best to allow them to open up about their struggles.

What happens if you drink too much cough syrup?

Explain the risks. A frank discussion about the health risks and potential deadliness of cough syrup abuse might all your child needs.

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