Boxes of over the counter cough medicine are flying off store shelves, but some people aren't using the medicine for its intended use. Teenagers are using it to get high.
"They get paranoid, they get hyper vigilant. They hallucinate," says Jane Abhraham.
It’s not the effects of ecstasy, cocaine, or meth that wellness practitioner Jane Abhraham is talking about, but symptoms of “Robo Tripping.” It's where teens use over the counter cough syrup like Robitussin to get high. The active ingredient is called DMX. It’s something that was popular in the 70's, but has evolved over time.
“They’re adding other ingredients like the power drinks and things like that. They’re hallucinating and they're getting in to some serious trouble and ending up in emergency rooms," says Abhraham.
A new study published in the Archive of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine shows teen abuse of Coricidin pills, Robitussin syrup, and similar over the counter medicine has risen 10 fold since 1990. An estimated 75 percent of all users are between the ages of nine and 17.
"I would imagine if they keep doing it long enough they could become addicted, if they live," says Abhraham.
Suicide attempts have been blamed on “Robo Tripping” and an overdose can lead to death.
"It’s going to take quite a few deaths, I’m afraid to start taking some action," says Abhraham.
Cough medicine also is sometimes abused in combination with other medications, alcohol and illegal drugs, which can increase the dangerous side effects. Parents, you should make sure you know what medicines are in your home and pay attention to quantities. Keep all medications out of reach and out of easily accessible places like medicine cabinets.