OCPD Warns Citizens About Cold Medicine Abuse

OCEAN CITY — The Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) this week is warning citizens of a growing trend of abuse of certain over-the-counter cold medicines by young people in and around the resort area for their hallucinogenic effects.

The OCPD this week issued a warning to parents and guardians of young people about a renewed trend recently uncovered in the abuse of common cold remedies readily available over the counter known as coricidin or chlorpheniramine, for example. Another common culprit is dextromethorphan, or DMX, which is also a common ingredient in readily available cold remedies.

Used as directed, the medicines are effective in fighting the common cold, but taken in high doses exceeding the recommendations, the drugs produce feelings of euphoria.

While the use of common, readily available cold medicines to produce a high is certainly not a new concept — just a few years back there was an epidemic in the local area of young people abusing Robitussin, for example — it has made a comeback in recent weeks prompting the OCPD to issue a warning to parents and guardians.

“We been noticing it popping back up and we’re just trying to be proactive and stay out in front of it,” said OCPD spokeswoman Jessica Waters this week. “It’s not something new necessarily, but we’ve seen more and more of it recently and we want to do our due diligence by getting a warning out.”

According to the OCPD release, a teenager looking to get high or experiment with drugs will often turn to over-the-counter cold remedies because they are readily available at home of can be purchased in a local drug store or pharmacy.

When the Robitussin trend spiked up a few years back, many local pharmacies and drug stores began locking up the medicine and asking would-be purchasers for identification.

The advent of Internet sales has complicated the issue somewhat. For example, DMX is available for purchase online in bulk powder form and some websites encourage teenagers to abuse the medicine and often offer recipes for how best to achieve the desired results.

The misuse of the drugs create hallucinogenic effects with sets of distinct dose-dependent plateaus ranging from a mild stimulant effect with distorted visual perceptions at lose doses to a sense of complete disassociation from one’s body at higher doses.

Waters said the OCPD is warning parents and guardians to be on the lookout for certain signs of abuse.

“When looking for abuse, if it’s in a kid’s book bag or in their room, that could be a warning sign,” she said. “If they’re buying it, when they aren’t sick, that would certainly be a red flag.”