NEW YORK (CBS 2) — An alarming number of teens are getting high — not on illegal drugs but on something found in many homes.
It’s a dangerous addiction that can go unnoticed until it’s too late.
As CBS 2’s Mary Calvi reports, it’s a legal high called robotripping.
Dextromethorphan or DXM can be found in more than 100 cough medicines. More than 3 million teens nationwide have tried robotripping.
“It’s in your house, like everybody has it in their cabinets,” “Amanda” said.
Amanda said she started robotripping at the age of 16 and then couldn’t stop. For one year, abusing cough medicine took over her life.
CBS 2: “How addictive was it for you?”
Amanda: “It’s definitely addictive. It’s not something parents can catch onto easily.”
Parents may warn their children about illegal drugs, but experts say abusing cough medicine is usually not something most parents think of or worry about.
“They don’t think it’s as big of a deal because it’s a household product, something that they can buy in the store and a lot of times they don’t even know their children might be using it,” said Eriach Fox of Daytop Rehabilitation Center.
Studies show more than half of the teens in rehab have used cough medicine with DXM to get high.
“It was kind of a friend thing at first and as soon as I did it and didn’t feel pain anymore, I stuck with it and started using every day,” Amanda said.
Once she started, her addiction quickly spiraled out of control.
“My family just had enough of me and my attitudes and my out late at night and not coming home and not knowing what I was doing,” she said.
Experts warn parents to be aware of what’s in the medicine cabinet. Cough medicines with DXM have a clear warning label telling parents to learn about teen medicine abuse. The earlier the abuse is discovered, the better, because, as in Amanda’s case, when DXM is not enough to get a high, teens may move onto something else.
“I was using heroine,” Amanda said. “I started to shoot up which is something I promised myself I would never do.
“I lost my family. I lost my friends. I lost my everything.”
At the age of 18, she had nothing.
“I had to figure out what to do on my own,” Amanda said.
It took everything she had left to make the decision to check herself into rehab.
Now, a few months later, she’s clean. She’s finishing high school at the Daytop Rehabilitation Center. She’s also in their chorus, using her voice to rise out of addiction.
“There’s definitely a lot of mountains and definitely a lot of hills that I am hitting right now and I feel like if I try hard enough I can get over them,” Amanda said.
She’s using her strength to create a future all her own.
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