Drug addiction can rear its ugly head on the shelves at the corner pharmacy. That’s the threat of CCC, and the numbers of reported cases are rapidly on the rise.

CCC is the new Robitussin. Otherwise known as Triple C’s or Cordies, the over-the-counter medication Coricidin HBP Cough & Cold contains the drug dextromethorphan, or DXM. This medication is being abused, primarily by teens and even pre-teens, because DXM can produce a type of high when taken in amounts that greatly exceed the recommended dosage.

In these large doses, DXM is known to produce hallucinations and a sense of detachment from reality. Normally, this medication is used to legitimately treat the symptoms of severe coughs, colds and upper respiratory allergies.

Slang Terms for Cold Medication Abuse

How can a parent know if their child is engaging in cough medicine abuse? Other than the obvious behavioral differences that any parent would normally observe, they should understand the slang terms associated with DXM abuse.

If you hear your child use any of the following terms, it is probably time to have a talk at the very least:  Orange crush, Red Devils, Skittles, dex, Vitamin D. Also have your ear to the ground for terms like Robo, Robo-tripping and Robo-dosing, which originated from Robitussin DAC, another product long associated with cold medicine abuse.

Another word that should raise red flags is sizzurp, aka purple drank or lean. While there is no exact definition of what constitutes sizzurp, it is commonly a mixture of prescription or over-the-counter cough medicines like Coricidin or Robitussin DAC and flavored soda.

Overdoses of Cough Syrup

In some cases, these medicines are mixed with alcohol as well, creating a very dangerous, toxic cocktail. There have been several popular hip-hop songs which have glamorized the use of sizzurp, and many of the artists who created these songs have paid the ultimate price for their cold medicine abuse. Artists named DJ Screw, Big Moe and Pimp C have all died as a result of drinking alcohol and cough medicine cocktails, and rapper Lil Wayne was recently hospitalized for a seizure believed to be the result of his widely publicized addiction to sizzurp.

These were grown men, all weighing well over 150 pounds. If they died from abusing a cough medicine cocktail, imagine the potential effect on a developing teenager.

Teenage Drug Abuse

Even on their own, these cough medicines can lead to addiction, and many teenagers in drug treatment centers are there specifically for cough medicine addiction treatment. To be fair, Coricidin HBP and similar products have been proven to be safe and effective when used at their recommended doses – about 10 to 30 milligrams every six hours. However, abusers will generally ingest several times the recommended dose, which can produce hallucinations and effects similar to those experienced with phencyclidine (PCP).

One of the primary difficulties in combating this problem is the availability of obtaining Cordies. They are not illegal, nor are they age-restricted. And they are relatively inexpensive, although many teenagers end up shoplifting Coricidin anyway.

“It’s not illegal to purchase. It’s not even illegal to take in large quantities. It’s just dangerous and foolish and that is what is scaring everybody,” Dr. Charles Nozicka, director of pediatric emergency medicine at St. Alexius Medical Center in Illinois, told the Chicago Tribune. Indeed, poison control centers in New York are now listing instructions on what to do in the event of Triple C overdoses, and a Cincinnati, Ohio Poison Control Center reports that 71% of to Coricidin calls were classified as abuse. A 2004 article by the New York Timescatalogued over 2,500 calls to poison control centers nationwide, about DXM abuse; sixty percent of those were between the ages of thirteen and seventeen. That number has now increased to over 4,000, with seventy-five percent attributed to teenage drug abuse.

“We see a lot of kids addicted to cold medicine because they don’t have to go on the street to get it,” says Lisa Colacurcio-Cohan of Cornerstone Recovery Center. “They can buy it or steal it, and it’s legal to possess.” There are many obvious signs of cough medicine abuse, including:

  • difficulty walking
  • nausea
  • confusion and/or drowsiness
  • acting out of touch with reality
  • exhibiting unusual, unnatural body postures

If you notice your teenager exhibiting any of these symptoms, it may be due to cold medicine abuse. Call a drug treatment center today for information on addiction treatment. Cornerstone Recovery Center in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida has experience treating young people for over-the-counter cold medicine abuse, such as Triple C. Clients from all over the country, including Northeastern states like New York and Ohio to start their journey of recovery. Please call 1-888-711-0354 today to speak with Admissions Director Ryan Johnston about the programs available for you or a loved one. You can also contact us online.