Drug Policy

Hey, Kids! Try This at Home!

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A new report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) warns that the cough suppressant dextromethorphan (DXM) "can produce hallucinations or dissociative, 'out-of-body' experiences similar to those caused by the hallucinogens phencyclidine (PCP) and ketamine." Personally, I avoid cold remedies that contain dextromethorphan because I don't like the psychoactive effects of even a therapeutic dose, which leaves me tossing and turning with hypnagogic hallucinations dancing in my head. But the government's description makes me think I haven't given the stuff a fair chance. Which makes me wonder how bored teenagers are apt to respond when they're told that "young people are using cough syrups and cold pills in large doses to induce hallucinations, 'out-of-body' experiences or other effects," as Reuters tells us based on the federal report.

How many young people? According to SAMHSA's analysis of data from the 2006 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, "nearly 1 million" in the past year, or less than 2 percent. "The results do not show whether this type of drug abuse is rising, falling or staying the same," Reuters notes. SAMHSA cites an increase in DXM-related calls to poison control centers in California between 1999 and 2004, which for all we know reflects a trend that already has flattened or reversed. With plugs from the government and the press, however, DXM could really catch on. SAMHSA helpfully informs the curious that dextromethorphan is "found in more than 140 cough and cold medications that are available without a prescription," and it even has the low-down on the most popular brands for getting high: NyQuil, Corcidin, and Robitussin, in that order.

If overdosing on a cough suppressant doesn't appeal to you, federal drug warriors and their journalistic enablers want you to know that Ecstasy is new and improved. Yesterday, under the  headline "Rise Seen in Trafficking of Enhanced Ecstasy," The New York Times reported:

Seizures of Ecstasy at the northern border increased tenfold from 2003 to 2006, with more than half of the contraband tablets containing methamphetamine, a vastly more addicting drug….

The development comes after an uptick in Ecstasy use after years of waning popularity for the club drug and just as the supply of methamphetamine is being strangled at the Mexican border. Some law enforcement and treatment experts hypothesize that the turbocharged combination is an effort by traffickers to reverse trends unfavorable to their business by marketing a new product at a new point of entry.

Ecstasy, which gained popularity in the 1990s rave culture, had been in steep decline since 2001, but began to creep upward in 2005 and 2006, when first-time users increased by 40 percent, a third of them under the age of 18, according to a variety of studies….

"This is simply my opinion," said Scott Burns, a deputy director at the drug control policy office, "but drug traffickers often have to reinvent or come up with new products when what we're doing is working."

And given their symbiotic relationship with drug traffickers, anti-drug crusaders are happy to help with the marketing.

[Thanks to BakedPenguin for the Reuters link.]  

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  1. it even has the low-down on the most popular brands for getting high: NyQuil, Corcidin, and Robitussin, in that order

    Amateurs. I was making Nyquiladas 15 years ago.

  2. Congress will get right on this.After they lynch Roger Clemens.Tell me again what we pay them for?

  3. Robotripping. It kinda sucks. The numbers would be way higher if it didn’t suck so bad.

  4. So, based on past experience, sometime next spring I’ll need to show a photo ID to buy some NyQuil like I need to do now for Drixoral.

    For the children, of course.

  5. Kids are getting high on cough syrup? That’s outgrageous! Next thing we know, they will be sniffing glue!

    CoC

  6. Good thing they took out the pseudoephedrine. Can’t have that diluting the effect.

  7. Oh, and good to see that taking out the pseudoephedrine really cut into the meth supply.

  8. Ecstasy, which gained popularity in the 1990s rave culture, had been in steep decline since 2001, but began to creep upward in 2005 and 2006, when first-time users increased by 40 percent

    The nostalgia cycle is getting shorter and shorter. What’s next: neo-Boy Bands?

  9. What’s next: neo-Boy Bands?

    I’M BRINGIN’ SEXY BACK

  10. Since when is a 40% annual increase “creeping upward”?

    I’d love for my portfolio to creep upward at 40% per year.

  11. I’ll need to show a photo ID to buy some NyQuil

    You would have to do that already, but they took the pseudoephedrine out, just so you wouldn’t. They took some words out of their slogan, too, because it doesn’t do much of anything anymore but make you confused and sleepy.

  12. I’m “proud” to say that Suffolk County NY has already begun the fight by banning sales to minors. Neighboring Nassau County’s Hommissioner of Mental Health had to say:

    “If they’re doing Robitussin or any over-the-counter medications, there is a very good chance they’re doing Vicodin, heroin and heavier narcotics.”

    That’s good news about the Ecstasy though.

  13. I love the RobitussinPCP myself.

  14. Silly me, that’s a “Commissioner of Mental Health”

  15. Why can’t the kids just stick to beer like normal folks? Oh, yeah.

  16. I think I like the sound of “Hommissioner” instead. It sounds more German and bad-ass.

  17. …Hommissioner of Mental Health…

    Silly me, that’s a “Commissioner of Mental Health”

    Maybe he’s gay. You could have been right the first time.

  18. “If they’re doing Robitussin or any over-the-counter medications, there is a very good chance they’re doing Vicodin, heroin and heavier narcotics.”

    Um, no. If they are doing Vicodin, heroin, and heavier narcotics, they are probably not wasting time with cough syrup.

  19. Dextromethorphan, pseudoephedrine (sudafed) and diphenydramine (benadryl) are probably going to all be banned or prescription only in the future because they all can get you high. Can’t allow anything to compete with beer.

  20. Eryk–

    The pseudoephedrine laws aren’t about cutting overall supply. They’re just outsourcing all the meth-producing to Mexico. Another example of taking perfectly good blue-collar jobs from native Americans and giving them to furriners.

    And on a semi-serious note, is there any actual data to support the statement that meth supply is “being strangled” at the Mexican border, or this just someone’s opinion as well?

  21. As far as meth in X, maybe if there were reasonable access to real MDMA we wouldn’t have to roll with all this bathtub mixed, meth and heroine laced shit!

    Just sayin.

  22. All the cool kids are doing cheese and jenkem.

  23. I don’t see the phrase “gateway drug” anywhere. That always gets used when any of these clowns are talking about the threat to the chilluns. Did they change tactics while we were distracted by the R3VOLution?

  24. robotripping is, like, really really old, no?

    i know they’re drug warriors and all and thusly stuck in kultur war time loops of their own making and whatnot but…damn.

  25. A friend once offer me Robitussen. He described it basically like this: you feel like you die but then you come out of it and you feel like you accomplished something. To which I replied: no thanks.

    Not that it should be illegal, etc. but given that he had a mental breakdown a year before in which robotripping was a factor, I would advise the curious not to waste your time with it.

  26. Any chance this stuff will be available in generic brands? Sure will be better for those of us on a fixed income.

  27. [Just as Moe is about to sell the secret ingredient, everyone hears Homer laughing maniacally, and they see him up on the roof girders in the style of Quasimodo]
    Homer: YOU FOOLS! You poor, pathetic, misguided creatures – drowning on Flaming Moes day and night, wondering “How does he do it?” Well, I’m going to tell you! [giggles evilly] The secret ingredient is…
    Moe: Homer, no!
    Homer: … cough syrup! Nothing but plain, ordinary, off-the-shelf children’s cough syrup! [laughs maniacally again]
    Moe: Shoot.

  28. Ephedrine is like the best stuff ever

  29. Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t they change the formula once in the late 80s to deal with this? Isn’t dextromethorphan a substitute for something else? I dimly recall hearing this back then, since I had friends that were slamming 2 bottles of RobitussinDM before school.

  30. Only geeks use cough syrup to get high.

  31. You had a lame childhood if you just found out about this:P

  32. T: over-the-counter cough syrups in the 1950’s and 1960’s used to contain codeine as their active ingredient. Opiates make mighty good antitussives. And they’re safe too. So naturally, it was banned. :-p

  33. Do any of these morons have any idea how hard it is to face high school sober? Give these kids a break. I am sure this story will make the rounds on any number of local 6 and 11 o’clock news casts. You have got to love the local news. If you need to know where to find a hooker or how to get high, the local news always has you covered.

  34. Dextromethorphan, pseudoephedrine (sudafed) and diphenydramine (benadryl) are probably going to all be banned or prescription only in the future because they all can get you high.

    We also have to ban nutmeg, morning glory seeds, poppy seeds, ether, nitrous oxide, glue, gasoline, paint thinner…etc.

    Anthing and everything that can cause a buzz must be illegal, except alcohol, tobacco and coffee.

  35. Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t they change the formula once in the late 80s to deal with this? Isn’t dextromethorphan a substitute for something else? I dimly recall hearing this back then, since I had friends that were slamming 2 bottles of RobitussinDM before school.

    Used to contain codeine. I think it was changed in the 70s.

  36. Dextromethorphan was in Sucrets years ago. I used Sucrets all the time when I was a kid, never had any hallucinations but the metal boxes were fun to keep little trinkets in. If I wanted “fun” with cough drops I’d go for the Pine Bros. which were the gummi bears of their day.

  37. T: over-the-counter cough syrups in the 1950’s and 1960’s used to contain codeine as their active ingredient. Opiates make mighty good antitussives. And they’re safe too. So naturally, it was banned. :-p

    Yep, so naturally it was replaced with something less safe and much less effective, all because it is not adictive and is a much worse high.

  38. Best thread ever! Outsourcing jobs to mexico, cough syrup, prescription drugs, X….

    *excitement overload*

  39. Remember kids, 1.5mg per pound of body weight and you’re off to the races! You will vomit, however. That’s normal

    Whoever the hell is calling mdma with methamphetamine “enchanced” is off their rocker, by the way. Speedy X is godawful–the presense of stimulants other than MDMA is a sign of contamination and low quality stuff

  40. The dose of DXM required for full-blown psychoactive effects is extremely high, and the additional effects are not at all pleasant. Only kids would even bother with it. Oh, and it takes quite a bit to kill you if it’s just pure DXM; probably more than a person could ingest without vomiting or passing out (but they’d still need to go to the hospital).

    “This is simply my opinion,” said Scott Burns, a deputy director at the drug control policy office, “but drug traffickers often have to reinvent or come up with new products when what we’re doing is working.”

    Scott Burns is very, very stupid.

  41. You’ve never heard of this stuff and you call yourself a libertarian? D’Souza will be disappointed.

    I drank that a bunch during my ’90s childhood. One time, I spent half an hour talking to a fire hydrant in my front yard. Another time, my friend and I took it and went to see The Truman Show, which made for a surreal afternoon. Then we drove twenty miles an hour down I-35 in his dad’s 1981 Buick, then hung out in a Brahm’s parking lot eating ice cream (yes, I’m from Texas).

  42. “If they’re doing Robitussin or any over-the-counter medications, there is a very good chance they’re doing Vicodin, heroin and heavier narcotics.”

    By that logic, if your kid is holding hands with someone of the opposite gender, there’s a good chance their having orgies, gang banks, and donkey shows.

  43. Jack,

    Back in the day when I was doing military cases, I would say 50% of the positive tests for MDMA were also positive for Methanphetimine. I was never an X user so I always assumed that was a bonus ingrediant. I guess not. The LE guy in the article probably knows about as much as I did about how drugs actually work.

  44. I agree with Lamar. I’ve robotripped twice, and both times it was just terrible. Give me pot, or give me beer, or give me death.

  45. If you need to know where to find a hooker or how to get high, the local news always has you covered.

    QFT.

  46. It’s cool; once the anti-drug propaganda gets into full swing, bored kids will once and for all forsake all drugs and instead will excercise lots (no obesity “epidemic”) and join the glee club.

  47. If your child is playing violent video games, there’s a good chance he’s also involved in underground cage fighting and killing people for money.

  48. I found Robo Warriors to be pretty fun, just had to get through the projectile vomiting at the start.

  49. I’m sure that the trips supplied by OTC cough syrup don’t even compare to good window pane or blotter that I took in the ’70s and ’80s. [/middle aged grumble]

  50. Agree with Lamar & Firsty. I found Robodosing to be intensely unpleasant, and lacking in all the more sought-after effects. The best I got was a talking toilet bowl, which should tell you where I spent a good portion of my “trip” time.

    I’m sure I’m preaching to the choir, but if pot and mild psychedelics were legal, no one would waste their time on this stuff.

  51. One of the problems with drinking cough syrup (other than the truly awful taste) is that unless it is just DXM it probably also contains guaifenesin, which is meant to make you cough out phlegm but will also make, uh, everything looser, like the contents of your colon, and may contain acetaminophen (Tylenol) which can seriously mess up your liver and kidneys if you consume more than enough to trip. I suspect a lot of the DXM related emergency calls are because of pharmaceutical ingredients other than DXM. I highly recommend visiting erowid.org to learn more about it and other substances of note.

    For a libertarian, though, this is one of the consequences of the war on (some) drugs. Given the human desire for altered states of consciousness, if safe(r) drugs are not available, more dangerous ones will be resorted to.

    Just keep telling yourself it’s for the children. Even if it hurts them.

  52. This has been very popular in Houston for years, thanks to the Houston rap scene. They make cocktails out of it, tho – they don’t drink it straight.

    As a lifelong sufferer of respiratory illness and a probable shoo-in for CPOD in about twenty years, I’ve taken lots of cough syrups in my lifetime and it’s a foul way to get high – takes too long and takes too much. Kids can get plenty of other stuff that works faster and tastes better.

    Of course, I’m not real familiar with how the kids get high nowadays. I spent my teen years in the near vicinity of New Orleans, where we bought hard liquor at the gas station and no one ever asked for ID, not even in the FQ, so I’m totally unfamiliar with the concept of teenagers not being able to access alcohol at will.

  53. if safe(r) drugs are not available, more dangerous ones will be resorted to.

    Pretty much. I can’t see many people wanting to do inhalants if they could find decent pot.

  54. Some law enforcement and treatment experts hypothesize that the turbocharged combination is an effort by traffickers to reverse trends unfavorable to their business by marketing a new product at a new point of entry.

    While the ones who don’t have their heads in their rectums realize that speed is cheaper than MDMA, and that this is adulterated ecstasy produced to increase the manufacturers’ profit margin.

  55. Some law enforcement and treatment experts hypothesize

    I thought that, like myself, both the experts and the drug dealers are in the middle of watching season 2 of “The Wire”

  56. “The development comes after an uptick in Ecstasy use after years of waning popularity for the club drug and just as the supply of methamphetamine is being strangled at the Mexican border.”

    OK, let me get this straight, Ecstacy use is going up, because the meth supply is being strangled. I have a question. Where is the X coming from?

  57. …the supply of methamphetamine is being strangled at the Mexican border.”

    I call balderdash. Anybody who believes that statement is too stupid to be allowed out of the basemnet.

  58. “sippin’ on some scissors” anyone?

    I’ll agree that it isn’t fun, but I found ‘robotripping’ very interesting. It’s a discommunicative and creates the impression that your body and mind aren’t necessarily in the same container.

  59. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olney's_lesions

    … have been seen in rats given dissociative drugs, but have never been seen in humans. At recreational doses, injury is even less likely. The controversy is centered around ketamine, a human anesthetic, which can also be used recreationally in low doses.

    Interestingly enough, the article also references this paper:

    Farber N, Hanslick J, Kirby C, McWilliams L, Olney J (1998). “Serotonergic agents that activate 5HT2A receptors prevent NMDA antagonist neurotoxicity”. Neuropsychopharmacology 18 (1): 57-62. PMID 9408919.

    So, the trick is to take LSD with your ketamine. 🙂

  60. And that’s…one to grow on.

  61. I always thought DXM was kind of a crap shoot. One time I’d be flying through snow-covered hills, but the next time my hands would itch and I’d lay there wishing I could fall asleep.

    I’d recommend Mum’s Finally We Are No One no matter what.

  62. So as the drug war goes on the drugs get more lethal, the cost gets higher, the punishments get harsher, the corruption gets more widespread, more innocent people get hurt, and it gets easier to score.

    That’s progress?

  63. keep dope alive

  64. I think they’re drinking DM syrup for the effect of the alcohol.

  65. Nice! But how does promotion of OTC medications help the drug dealer? How does that help the DEA – other than fueling its false image as “guardian of the children against dangerous drugs”? Is there any chance of bring back 50 proof Nyquil?

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