An alert from Chief Taylor on the rise in abuse of cough and cold medicines

Mark Taylor Northfield Police Chief Mark Taylor has a letter on Page 8 in the December Northfield High School newsletter (PDF). High School Principal Joel Leer introduces the chief’s letter: “Chief Taylor details some troubling information that is coming out about young people in Rice County who have been abusing cold and cough medicines. Please talk to your children about what they are doing, seeing, and hearing in school.” (continued)

December, 2008

Dear Parents and Guardians:

The Rice County Chemical Health Coalition engages in county-wide efforts to reduce youth alcohol and other drug use through strong partnerships among community agencies and organizations. One of the Action Teams of the Coalition is the Enforcement Team, a group that has been focused on keeping alcohol out of the hands of youth. At a recent meeting, our group of law enforcement officers became aware of increasing levels of abuse of cold and cough medicines by young people in our communities. Medications containing DMX (dextromethorphan) are especially popular.

Using large quantities of various cough or cold medicines can produce a “high.” Because these medicines are widely used, young people assume they are safe. They are easy to get and hard to detect in the body, so they can become a popular way to experiment with getting high. But these medicines are only safe when used as directed.

Abuse of cough and cold medicines can cause many problems: hallucinations, loss of motor control, and “out-of-body” sensations are common. Other possible side effects of DXM abuse include: confusion, impaired judgment, blurred vision, dizziness, paranoia, excessive sweating, slurred speech, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, headache, lethargy, numbness of fingers and toes, facial redness, dry and itchy skin, loss of consciousness, seizures, brain damage, and even death.

We want to ask your help in guarding against abuse of these medicines by our youth. Be aware of your child purchasing these medicines. If you notice your child having or using these medicines, especially if he/she doesn’t seem ill, talk to your child. Keep an eye on these medicines in your home; consider keeping them in a secure place.

Prevention efforts work best when all sectors of the community work together and support healthy choices for our young people. Parents are key players in this effort and can really help to keep youth safe and healthy. If we can help or support your efforts in any way or if you have suggestions about our work, please contact the Coalition staff using the information below. Also, for a listing of local resources related to youth substance use prevention and intervention, visit www.northfieldhci.org and click on “Resources.”

Sincerely,

Mark D. Taylor, Northfield Police Chief

Enforcement Team Members: Paul Beaumaster (Rice County Attorney’s Office), Dan Collins (Faribault Police Department), Richard Cook (Rice County Sheriff’ Office), Chris Daley (Dundas Police Department), Loren Johnson (Rice CountyCommunity Corrections), Dave Osborne (Morristown Police Department), Bill Olsen (Northfield Police Department), Neal Pederson (Faribault Police Department), Scott Robinson (Rice County Sheriff’s Office), Jim Severson (Discovery Public School), Jason Schmitz (Lonsdale Police Department), Roger Schroeder (Northfield Police Department), Tonya Slager (Rice County Attorney’s Office), Dan Silkey (Rice County Sheriff’s Office), Bob Sletten (Rice County Sheriff’s Office), Blaine Smith (Rice County Sheriff’s Office), Tori Stewart (Rice County Attorney’s Office), Mark Taylor (Northfield Police Department), Bob Vogelsburg (Faribault Police Department)

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