Teen Addiction to Coricidin HBP or Triple-C

October 28, 2015

Over-the-counter medications may be legal but they can also be lethal if used in excess. Excess is an all too familiar description of many teens who view warnings as merely suggestions.

A couple of years ago, clinicians at the Elk River Treatment Program (ERTP) in Alabama began to see an increase in abuses of over-the-counter medications. My first experience was a couple of years ago when exasperated parents called about their 15 year old daughter who had just been kicked out of the third school for her explosive behavior. She tested clean for illegal drugs but only because she had found another source to get high and it was available at every drug store: Coricidin. When they drove to the home office in Huntsville, AL straight from the last school that had kicked her out, I witnessed a very angry, hostile young lady who had been taking large doses of cold medicine for a very long time. It wasn’t pretty.

Later that year I encountered another distraught parent whose daughter’s erratic behavior had resulted in suspension from school and literally terrorized her entire family. Drug tests came back clean. Perplexed and increasingly concerned, the father commandeered his daughter’s cell phone and discovered conversations between her and friends about Orange Crush, Red Devils and Skittles. Were they referring to candy? No. They were referring to Coricidin or Triple C, an addictive over-the-counter drug that continues to be a dangerous “legal” high that teens can easily access.

Triple C, the slang term for Coricidin HBP Cough and Cold, contains Dextromethorphan or DXM which taken in large doses can produce hallucinations. The simplest way to put it, says ERTP CEO Karen Lee, “is that teens have discovered a way to get high yet fly under the radar. One of the issues we face with Triple Cs is that it is difficult to detect because there is no drug screen for it. Pot can be detected for a month after use,” she explained, “but Triple Cs are not picked up by drug tests.”

“I hear about it a lot from parents who call the program” looking for help with their teen’s destructive behavior, said ERTP Admissions Director Kathy DeMellier. “Many of our residents have experimented with Triple Cs and it is often used with other drugs – adding to the dangers.”

Extreme abuse can cause organ damage and other serious health issues. Coricidin HBP products are effective in the treatment of colds but when abusers take it by the handful for its effects on visual perception and cognitive processes, they risk injuring themselves, memory issues and even death. Other effects and what parents should look for include:

  • Nausea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • High blood pressure
  • Headache
  • Numbness of fingers and toes
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Seizure
  • Brain damage

If you think your child is abusing over-the-counter medications, please contact ERTP and speak to an admission professional: 866-906-TEEN. Or contact us by email: [email protected]. We’re here to help.