SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) – Soon there will be huge changes to the way cough medicine is sold in Florida stores. Starting Jan. 1, children under the age of 18 will be banned from buying cough medicine in the state. It’s an effort to curb a dangerous drug threat.
For around 60 years, cough medicines have used a special ingredient to suppress those annoying coughs. It’s called Dextromethorphan, or DXM. In small doses, it can soothe those pesky cold symptoms.
But, pharmacist Vincent Nguyen says some take advantage of it.
“It can be harmful in large quantities,” said Nguyen.
Millions of young adults abuse cough medicine. They drink large amounts of it, snort it, or inject it to get a quick high, and Florida lawmakers want to stop it.
Starting Jan. 1, a new law takes effect banning people under the age of 18 from buying cough syrup. Pharmacies and stores will be required to check ID and violators could face fines.
“That’s a great idea honestly,” said high school student Lucas Genser.
Genser knows of other teens who have abused cough syrup. He doesn’t understand why people do it.
“It’s like, a really bad idea to get high off cough syrup or any type of drug pretty much. You should just spend your time playing sports or doing something active instead of just spending your time getting high all day,” said Genser.
It has dangerous consequences. Experts say DXM abuse can lead to side effects like liver damage, heart attacks or death. Florida joins at least 11 other states that have similar bans.
“I think it has its pros and cons,” said Nguyen.
Nguyen admits this new law can be an inconvenience for young people who genuinely need the medicine.
“At the same time it will also help quench those cases of abuse and I believe make the community a little bit safer,” said Nguyen.
There are warning signs if your teen is abusing cough medicine. These include missing bottles of medicine, change in physical appearance and eating habits and withdrawing from friends and activities. It’s important to talk to your teens about the dangers of abusing cough syrup.