US/World

What Is Sizzurp? Signs Of Cough Syrup Abuse In Teens

cough syrup
While reports say that the syrup was not past their expiration date, the sale of sub-standard and expired health products is evidently a common problem in Pakistan. Creative Commons

Rapper Lil Wayne recently made headlines after being admitted to the Intensive Care Unit at Cedars-Sinai hospital in Los Angeles for a reported over-dose on "Sizzurp." The cough syrup-related drug has become popular among experimental teenagers these days, offering the euphoric feeling associated with morphine, heroin and other opiates.

Should parents be more mindful about what is in their medicine cabinets?

Part of the danger involved with the concoction is just how readily available it can be to most teens and young adults. The more popular ingredients include promethazine, an antihistamine, and codeine, an opiate.

But the combination of promethazine-codeine is a prescription cough suppressant, so how are kids getting their hands on it?

Dextromethorphan (DXM) is the active ingredient in most over-the-counter (OTC) cough syrups such as NyQuil, Robitussin and Theraflu. It is categorized as an antitussives and works by slowing down the activity in the brain that triggers the cough reflex.

When this emerging drug craze was taking off, abusers drank large quantities of OTC medicines resulting in extreme bouts of euphoria and even hallucinations. Now users are finding gel and liquid tablets to have more concentrated doses of the drug. They are also easier to consume than the unpleasantly thick cough syrup.

DXM can be found in close to every cough medication sold in the U.S. today making it not only legal, but cheap and easy to find. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, after marijuana, prescription and over the counter medications are the most commonly abused drugs among high school seniors.

Quite possibly the most dangerous part of this drug movement is just how much parents don't know about it. After all, only a few years ago those same parents were forcing their children to consume the same medicine to help fight the common cold.

Medical professionals urge parents to understand the dangers involved with cough syrup abuse and to relay those dangers to kids who might not see cough syrup in the same light as marijuana, cocaine or ecstasy.

Abuse of DXM and other codeine-related products can result in a wide variety of side effects including nausea, dizziness, impaired vision, memory loss, hallucination, seizures and even coma.

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