Cold tripping: Dangerous teen trend hits East Texas - KYTX CBS 19 Tyler Longview News Weather Sports

Cold tripping: Dangerous teen trend hits East Texas

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TYLER (KYTX) - Teens across the country are putting a new spin on a dangerous drug trend.

"Cold tripping" is getting high from over the counter cough suppressant pills.

Pharmacists say some teens buy the medications off the shelves, but most steal the pill boxes and sell them to friends, or take them in dangerous doses. 

Teens call them "triple C," "red caps," or "skittles." The pills are very accessible, meant to cure a cold, but when abused, they can become as dangerous as any illegal drug.

"I was scared. It's an alarming thing to learn about!" says Ronna Best, who is both a nurse and a mom of a teenager.

She has done her research about cold tripping. She knows it used to be popular for kids to drink cough syrup to get high. Now, it's pills with an even higher concentration of the same, potentially dangerous substance.

"Anything that says DM, that's your dextromethorphan," says Good's Pharmacy Manager David Davis. 

Davis says when you take too much of a drug with DM, it does get you high, but it could also cause strokes, organ failure, even death.

The cold medicine Coricidin seems to be the most popular right now, because the DM is mixed with a decongestant, which adds to the high.

It's something Best is bringing up in conversation with her 15-year-old daughter.

"She's in a big high school here in town and she knows that it happens, and she knows what I expect from her," she says.

Best has talks with her daughter about both illegal, and over the counter drugs.

"You have to make sure you know how much medicine you have in your house and you have to let them know how dangerous it can be," she says.

Davis says if you see your child using one of these drugs, ask questions: Why did you need to buy that? Why didn't you tell me you were sick? Why don't we go to the doctor? A skiddish response can be a red flag.

Davis says he's worked at other pharmacies where he's had to take medicines containing DM off the shelves and put them behind the counter, away from teens. He hasn't had to do that at Good's, but if the problem gets worse, he says he will.

Right now, there is no age limit to buy these cough medicines, but if a pharmacist suspects drug abuse, he or she can legally refuse to sell over the counter medicines to a customer.
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