While California passed a long list of new laws that took effect this past week, one of the laws being talked about more frequently is the one that prohibits anyone under the age of 18 from purchasing over the counter (i.e. non-prescription) medicine with the cough suppressant dextromethorphan. The law was intended to prevent kids from buying the cough syrup in order to get high.
Dr. Ilene Anderson, senior toxicologist with the California Poison Control system stated that ingesting the drug, "can cause much agitation and dysphoria, or a very bad high where teenagers are scared and upset, confused and disoriented." Some over the counter drugs containing dextromethorphan are Robitussin, Nyquil and Coricidin.
According to an excerpt in the Huffington Post article linked above, "It is the number one drug of choice for children under 18," Pediatrician Dr. Janesri De Silva said in another interview, "[it's] more common than even marijuana because it is so easily accessible."
Additionally, The California Poison Control System has reported that DXM abuse calls for children under age 17 have increased 850 percent in the past decade, making DXM abuse the most commonly reported type of abuse in this age group.
When I first heard of this law, I immediately had flashbacks to the popular song "Sippin on Sizzurp" (which I would link to, but the video and lyrics are somewhat obscene). However, apparently the high obtained from sizzurp, which is also some sort of cough syrup, is not only purple in hue, but also derived from the active ingredient promethazine.
It will be interesting to see whether the ban accomplishes its goal of decreasing the use, or whether more drastic measures, such as keeping the medicine behind counters, will be necessary in order to curb the abuse.
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