CHESTERFIELD (WRIC) - More and more teens are using cough medicine to get high in Chesterfield County.
It's not a new problem, using cough syrups to get high, but it has become a growing one in Chesterfield as survey numbers show more teens are doing it than ever before.
It's the cough suppressant found in cough medicine, DXM, but it's also the ingredient that can get kids high if they take too much.
"The rate of abuse among high schoolers in Chesterfield County is about three times as great as the national average," says Chesterfield SAFE's Wayne Frith.
Frith says he believes more kids are turning to cough medicine because the county has cracked down on prescription and other types of drug abuse, but too much medicine can cause serious problems.
Dr. Curt Heimbach with the west creek emergency center says most of those medicines contain other ingredients that can also have negative impacts.
"Nausea…vomiting…altered mental status…confusion," he says. "You can have liver failure and permanent damage to your liver from that with continued use.
Heimbach says he's seen firsthand what can happen during his time at VCU Medical Center.
"We did have a few serious cases with liver failure from it."
Frith says some stores don't sell the medicines to anyone under 18 but many still do.
"That is not universal, nor is it required by law. That's what we're working for is getting drug stores to take on some of that self-imposed monitoring."
Doctors say to treat cough medicines like prescription drugs and keep them locked up or at least monitor them.
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