New measure against teenage substance abuse

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(KTSF)

(KTSF by Susannah Lee)

Dextromethorphan, also known as DXM or DM, is a common cough suppressant found in more than 100 over-the-counter medicines, including popular cough and cold medicines such as NyQuil, Robitussin-Dm, and Coricidin.

When taken according to the recommended dosage, dextromethorphan is safe. However, Ilene Anderson, Senior Toxicology Management Specialist of the California Poison Control System, cautions that intentional overdosing can cause serious side effects such as heart and nervous system problems, hallucinations, agitation, confusion, arrhythmia, and seizures.

According to the California Poison Control System, over the past 10 years there has been a 10-fold increase in reports of teenage abuse of DXM. Over 80% of these reports were made by hospitals attending to teenagers suffering from DXM symptoms.

DXM is abused because cough medicine is legal, comparatively inexpensive, and easily accessible to teenagers.

Dr. Marty Fenstersheib, Health Officer of Santa Clara County, believes that preventing teenagers from obtaining medicine with DXM is not enough to tackle the abuse problem. He says, “It really is an educational challenge to make more information available to family and parents. Parents are the ones who need to talk with kids about it, need to look at what’s in the medicine cabinet, and they might not even know these things the kids have used.”

The new measure will take effect on New Year’s Day. Pharmacies and supermarkets selling medicine that contains DXM will be required to make sure that customers are over 18. Selling products with DXM to anyone under 18 could result in a fine of up to $250.

(Copyright 2011 KTSF. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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