Nov. 13, 2006

Local pharmacists warn parents

By Kristen Miller
Staff Writer

Stores around Dassel and Cokato have been experiencing the disappearance of cold medicines from their shelves. Owners believe this drug is used by teenagers to get high and are informing parents of this activity.

Defined as Robotripping, kids are using cough syrup or any cold flu pills that contain dextromethorphan (DXM), which causes hallucinations.

DXM can be found in over-the-counter medication such as Robitussin DM, Coricidin HBP, Vicks NyQuil, and Vicks Formula 44.

Since these drugs are not used for the production of methamphetamine, they remain available over the counter, according to Tom Keaveny of Keaveny Thrifty White Drug in Cokato.

Keaveny had noticed this two years ago, but the problem seemed to alleviate when Sudafed went behind the counter, he said.

“Now, kids have been stealing them left and right,” he said.

Keaveney explained how teenagers are using these pills. Overdose on it. Get high and go to sleep.

“And parents aren’t aware of this situation,” he said.

The Keavenys will be watching this situation and have even posted a sign, “Teenagers BEWARE,” to help the situation.

Keaveny then notified Mike Peterson of Peterson Pharmacy in Dassel, along with Larry Wasmund at The Marketplace of the thefts.

Kids, around the age of 15, have been coming into Peterson Pharmacy and stealing the drugs.

“We’re keeping an eye on them,” said owner, Peterson said.

The pharmacy will probably have to put them behind the counter, he said.

Wasmund has noticed empty boxes of Coricidin left throughout the store for about a month now, he said.

Coricidin is an over-the-counter antihistamine with the cough suppressant containing DXM. This will be put behind the counter at The Marketplace, as well.

“It’s too much of a temptation,” Wasmund said.

“Parents need to be made aware of this,” he said.

Susie Keskey of Wright County Methamphetamine Education and Drug Awareness (MEADA) advises parents to be aware of their children’s activities.

“Check around the house, in their room, in the trash for empty bottles and packages of cold medicines that you have not purchased for family use. If a parent finds extra or an excess of such items, it could be a warning sign of drug misuse,” Keskey said.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, at doses of four or more ounces of cough syrup, DXM causes effects similar to PCP. DXM can cause hallucination, depressed breathing, elevated blood pressure and irregular heart beat. Overdoses can cause seizures, comas and death, according to the institute.

“As a parent, we warned our children at a very young age about the dangers of taking too much medicine at one time. Just because they are teenagers does not mean that the dangers have decreased. Children need to be reminded about these dangers again as parents begin to trust their child’s judgement about independently taking over-the-counter drugs,” she said.

Drug prevention

According to theantidrug.com, drug prevention begins with parents talking to their kids about illicit drug use. This includes street drugs along with prescription and over-the-counter medication.

Be “vigilant” about a child’s online activities and the history of the web sites they have visited.

Also, due to the convenience of shopping for medicine online, limit and watch the purchases a child makes on the parents’ credit cards and be aware of what is being mailed to the home.

It is also recommended to remove medications from the medicine cabinet and place them in a secure place that the children don’t have access to.

But most of all, the web site notes “keeping communications open between you and your children is the best prevention action a parent can do.”

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