PHOENIX -- A trip to the nurse's office ended with several Valley high school students being rushed to the hospital Tuesday. Tuns out, those students may have taken something that can be found in many medicine cabinets.
According to Drug Free Arizona, one in five eighth-graders admits to abusing some kind of medication. In Tuesday's incident, it was a common cough and cold medication taken by three students at Poston Butte High School that landed them in the hospital.
“Unfortunately today, three people made a bad choice and are dealing with those consequences,” said Tim Richard, Poston Butte High School principal. “We just really want to make sure our kids, parents and families are aware of how serious this is.”
It all started with one boy who went to the nurse complaining he didn't feel well and admitted to taking what the kids call “Triple C.” That is Coricidin cough and cold medication.
The student told the nurse two others had taken the same drug. All three were found with high blood pressure and an increased heart rate. They were transported to the hospital.
Shelly Mowrey with Drug Free Arizona says these kids got lucky.
“A lot of times we hear from parents, 'Phew, thank goodness it wasn't heroin or cocaine,’ not realizing prescription drugs can be just as dangerous, addictive and deadly as a street drug like heroin," Mowrey said. “The main ingredient in these cough and cold medicines is dextromethorphan, and if a kid takes too much they can have an out-of-body or hallucinogenic experience.”
And these cold medicines are not only found in most homes but are legally sold and often easily stolen.
Mowrey urges parents to talk to their kids and keep close tabs on their pills, both prescription and over-the-counter.
“The bottom line is they will abuse anything,” Mowrey said. “I’ve heard of kids abusing estrogen tablets. They will take anything to get a perceived high. The kids’ attitude right now is that it's a harmless high and they are using it (over-the-counter medication) at record levels.”
All three boys have been released from the hospital.
But, experts say cough and cold medicine, if abused, won't just get you high, it could also get you killed. It’s also very addictive.
Richard said students who need help should ask for it and wants them to know they won’t get in trouble; they will get help.