Iowa health officials are keeping close watch on the growing trend of cough medicine abuse by teenagers. Doctor Ed Bottei, medical director of the Iowa Statewide Poison Control Center in Sioux City, says in recent years, there’s been a steady increase in the reported number of kids guzzling harmful amounts of cough medicine to get high.
Dr. Bottei says “In 2004, we saw approximately 42 cases. In 2005, we saw approximately 53 cases, and so far to date, we’ve already seen 66 cases for 2006, so a slow increasing trend is what we’re noticing here in Iowa.” The rises in recent years have only been by a dozen or so cases and there are tens of thousands of Iowa children. Still, Bottei explains why the statistics are alarming.
Bottei says “Even though it’s a small number, we know here at the Iowa Poison Center, we’re not capturing all the data. We’re probably only capturing a small percentage of the data. So, taking that small increase that’s known over the past few years and extrapolating it to the whole state, does let us realize there is probably a bigger problem out there than just these small numbers that we’re seeing.”
Those who abuse the over-the-counter medicine can get a high off dextromethorphan. Bottei says taking large amounts of cough medicine can produce euphoria, but also can cause excitability, paranoia, panic attacks — and worse. Bottei says “They can wind up having things like their blood pressure going up, them hallucinating, them being totally out of touch with reality. They can wind up with problems with fevers, shaking, diarrhea.
When it’s really bad and you get enough dextromethorphan, you can actually have convulsions and seizures.” He says cough medicine abuse can also lead to bigger problems, like kidney or liver damage. For more information, call the Poison Center’s toll-free hotline, 800-222-1222, or surf to “www.iowapoison.com”.
Related web sites:
Poison Center website