Triple C is the common street name for Coricidin HBP Cough & Cold, a popular over-the-counter brand of cough and cold medication that is commonly abused by teenagers. Multiple Coricidin products include the cough suppressant dextromethorphan (DXM), a drug that can produce hallucinations and dissociation when consumed in high doses.
Triple C is considered to have a moderate potential for abuse but remains unregulated by the federal government. As such, DXM products can be purchased without a prescription. The substance is considered safe when used as directed, but abusing Coricidin products can lead to coma or death. DXM is most often taken orally, but when misused can also be snorted or injected.
While the sale of pharmaceuticals that contain DXM to minors has been banned in several states, many teens still continue to misuse these drugs for their hallucinogen effects.
What Does Triple C Look Like?
Coricidin HBP is available in several formulas including those for the treatment of cough and colds, chest congestion, and influenza. Some teenagers refer to the drug as “Skittles” because the pills resemble the popular candy. Other street names include “Robo,” “CCC,” and “Poor Man’s PCP.”
Commonly abused Triple C medications including the following:
- Coricidin HBP Cough & Cold – Round red tablets, 30mg
- Coricidin HBP Chest Congestion & Cough – Red softgel capsules, 10mg
- Coricidin HBP Maximum Strength Flu – Oblong red tablets, 15 mg
Young people who abuse triple C often consume high doses of the drug in pill form. Powdered forms of DXM, which are available for purchase on the internet, can also be injected or snorted. It is not known if the powder is derived from Coricidin products, other DXM medications, or is synthesized by dealers.
Effects of Triple C
DXM is a dissociative anesthetic and hallucinogen that can alter a user’s perception and behavior. When abused, it can induce euphoria, delusions, and hallucinations. The higher the dose, the more intense the drug’s effects can become.
A triple C high, also sometimes referred to as robotripping, can lead to the following adverse effects:
- Stomach pain
- Slurred speech
- Vision changes
- Poor muscle control
- Irregular heartbeat
- Increased blood pressure
- Nausea and stomach pain
- Brain damage
Effects of DXM products can last up to six hours when taken in excessively high doses. Indeed, the medication is considered safe and effective when taken at 10-30 milligrams every six hours. But higher doses, however, can lead to severe adverse reactions including overdose.
Symptoms of a DXM overdose include problems breathing, intense hallucinations, increased body temperature, seizures, and coma. Consuming high doses of DXM repeatedly can also cause toxic psychosis, a severe mental health disorder in which a person experiences a complete disconnection from reality.
Coricidin products may also contain medications other than DXM that can cause health problems. For example, acetaminophen, which is the primary ingredient in Tylenol, can cause liver damage when used in high doses.
Preventing Triple C Misuse
According to law enforcement, triple C is most often abused by adolescents. Teens may steal the medication from pharmacies and use it or sell it to friends. For this precise reason, many retail stores have placed DXM products behind the counter rather than make them accessible on public shelves.
Parents are often unaware that their child is abusing these products. However, a teenager using DXM recreationally may exhibit several physical and behavioral changes, such as the following:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Rapid eye movement
- Drowsiness and lethargy
Signs of triple C misuse also include empty medication packaging in the trash (check for the presence of DXM in the ingredients to be sure), missing products from the medicine cabinet and declining academic performance. Adolescents abusing Coricidin HBP may also exhibit hostility and be uncooperative with parents and teachers.
Parents are urged to educate themselves on the effects of dextromethorphan. Understanding how DXM abuse can impact a person’s physical and psychological health can also help parents explain the dangers of abusing these drugs to their children.
Teen internet access should be closely monitored because DXM and other potentially dangerous substances are often sold online. Also, parents should safeguard the medicine cabinet and all medications in the house that contain DXM, opioids, benzodiazepines, or any other potentially intoxicating substances.
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