There has been a considerable increase in the number of cases of young people overdosing on non-prescription cough and cold medications all over the country. Emergency rooms and schools have been experiencing the onslaught of teens who have been using these drugs which are readily available through drugstores and supermarkets.
Reports show that there have been at least five deaths attributed to the abuse of over-the-counter medicines in the past two years, not to mention a substantial number of overdoses. Police and health care professionals say that this is a reflection of how popular such medications have become as recreational drugs to children as young as twelve years.
Originally, cough syrups and colds medications contained alcohol and codeine, an addictive opiate. This has made them quite popular with younger people as they would take in huge amounts of these drugs to get the addictive high that can be experienced from alcohol or codeine intake. These days, the same over-the-counter medications do not have alcohol in them anymore. Products that have codeine are classified prescription medications. But the threat doesn’t end at that. More than a 120 non-prescription drugs contain dextromethorphan (DXM). This is a cough suppressant which, when taken in large amounts, can cause hallucinations and inhibit motor control.
Aside from the fact that these drugs are easily accessible to teenagers, the Internet has also been known to fuel the interest on the their abuse. A kid can easily get the drugs and search the Internet for the appropriate dose, according to his weight, which will give him the expected effect.
Local pharmacies have already started acting on this growing concern by limiting the access to these medicines. Some drugstores do not allow consumers to purchases several boxes of the drugs at once. Manufacturers, for their part, have yet to exert an effort to restrict consumer access. “The vast majority of people take them responsibly,” says Fran Sullivan of Wyeth Consumer Healthcare in Madison, New Jersey. “As a medicine, it works hands-down, so we want people to be able to use it if they need it.”
However, they have made some adjustments on the packaging of their products making them too large so as to make it difficult for children to hide it in their backpacks or pockets. Advertisements for these products are also aired in shows that have an adult audience.
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