cough medicine abuse

Cough Medicine Abuse: Why you might have trouble buying your favorite cough and cold medicines

Sudafed, or other medications containing pseudoephidrine, as you know, are no longer available on your drug store shelves. You have to ask for it from the pharmacy counter. A prescription is not needed, but you will be limited in the quantity you can purchase and may have to present ID for their log book.

READ the OTC Labels!

Pharmaceutical companies made choices with some of their products prior to this new law and some changed the formulas in their popular cold medicines. Check the labels on your over-the-counter (OTC) medicines to be sure. It will be listed in the active ingredients area.

Always read OTC medication labels carefully! Many contain the same medications, and you can easily overdose. Ask your pharmacist or health care practitioner for assistance.

Some Changed Formulas Quietly

If your “old favorite” cold medicine doesn’t work as well as it used to, check your ingredients. Chances are good that it contains a different formula. Pharmaceutical companies made these changes quietly and most of their packaging does not indicate an ingredient change.

Quantities Limited to Help Reduce Illicit Drug Manufacture

Pseudoephedrine, the primary ingredient in Sudafed, is a used in making the illegal street drug methamphetamine or Speed.

Dextromethorphan Being Targeted Now

Now, you may also find yourself limited in purchasing cough formulas containing dextromethorphan. Cough formulas usually designate this by using DM in the name such as Robitussin DM. You may also see it referred to as DXM. Not all cough formulas contain dextromethorphan which is a cough suppressant chemical.

Cough Formula Abuse on the Rise

A new trend is becoming a serious health issue mostly among teenagers who use the DM formula cough syrups to get high. In large doses, dextromethorphan can produced euphoria and hallucinations. Robo-tripping and Skittling are the street terms for this illicit use of cough syrup.

Read the Labels

Some cough medicines don’t use the DM in the product name, but contain it none the less. For instance, some of the popular “Night-Time” and “Day-Time” cough/cold formulas such as NyQuil and DayQuil have dextromethorphan in them. Some pharmacies now won’t let you purchase a bottle of each at the same time, nor more than one bottle of either medication.

It’s Not Just the Cough Syrup

Cough gels, liquid caps and cough tablets can also contain dextromethorphan. Coricidin is one that has been reported to be popular with those looking to get high from the drug, however there are well over 100 OTC medications that contain dextromethorphan.