MADRAS, OR -- Jefferson County teens have found another way to get high. County officials have seen a recent spike in hospital visits, due to over-the-counter cold medicine abuse. Lacey Miller, Assistant Director for the Jefferson County Juvenile Department, says it's an accessible high, "I think some kids maybe have a mentality that because it's not an illegal drug or it's not a prescription medication that's not prescribed to them or whatever - that it's something they can get at the store - that maybe it's not going to be that bad for them. And in reality, it could kill them." She tells KBND News, "As far as the youth on probation, it's not detectable in a U.A. because it's not an illegal substance."
In high doses, Dextromethorphan, the main ingredient in cold medicine, can cause hallucinations. But, she says many kids aren't prepared for the side effects, "Really low breathing, like labored breathing, blurred vision, seizures, drowsiness and dizziness, either really extremely high blood pressure or really extremely low blood pressure." She adds, "There are some kids that I know that take a smaller dose, but still more than what they should, just to get a little bit of a high and go about their day. And then we have the extreme kids that take way too many and end up in the hospital." Four Jefferson County teens were admitted to the hospital last week.
Dextromethorphan is in mainstream medications like Nyquil, Robitussin, and Alka Seltzer Plus. It's also available in a generic, "There's a form of it that's available at the dollar store. It's not something that, I don't think a lot of the kids are buying. They're just taking [it] from the shelves." She recommends parents talk to kids about the dangers of too much cold medicine, make sure meds are kept out of reach and watch for empty blister packs of pills.