Crime - Sacto 911

Davis police warn of teens abusing popular cold medication

Davis police are alerting parents to the potential danger of a popular cold medication that has been abused by some teenagers in the community.

“Triple C” is the slang term teens use for the over-the-counter medication Coricidin HBP Cough & Cold, which contains dextromethorphan, or DXM. The medication is available without a prescription, and the pills can produce a potent hallucinogenic high when taken by the handful, according to police.

Police said several middle-school-age students were recently contacted after using the drug, and one of the students required medical attention. Teens are believed to be stealing the drugs from local stores, police said. They noted that the medication comes in a variety of forms, including red tablets, red softgel tablets and red liquid.

Police cited information from the National Drug Intelligence Center, which notes that the medication is used legitimately to treat the symptoms that typically result from colds or upper respiratory allergies. It has proved to be safe and effective when users adhere to recommended doses. Abusers typically consume many times the recommended dose, which produces hallucinations and dissociative effects similar to those experienced with the drugs PCP or ketamine.

When under the influence of the drug, which can last up to six hours, abusers risk injuring themselves and others because the drug affects visual perception and cognitive processes, authorities said. High doses of dextromethorphan result in an increased body temperature, which poses a particular health risk in environments, such as a rave or dance club, where users are dancing among crowds of people. Dextromthorphan abuse can result in nausea, abdominal pain, vomiting, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, headache, numbness of fingers and toes, loss of consciousness, seizure, brain damage and possibly death.

The Davis Police Department will hold a 10-week parent project class beginning in September. It will include information for parents regarding Triple C and drug trends. For information about the class, contact Trease Petersen, youth intervention specialist, at