Cough & Cold Medications

By: Vishwa Arasappan and Marco Guadagno TB:2

What is cold & cough medication?

Cold and cough medication is medicines used to help with the symptoms of coughing and cold. The two medications that are abused are medications capsules that contain dextromethorphan (DXM) and promethazine-codeine cough syrup. The medication that contains DXM, does cure coughing, but it is an OTC drug. If it is overdosed, it causes euphoria, and dissociative effects. Promethazine-codeine cough syrup is a prescription drug, but when overdosed, it causes produces higher euphoria.

How is it abused?

It is taken in capsule, liquid, pills, and powder form. Young people use the DXM because it is an over the counter drug which makes it easier to access. Some people mix the promethazine-codine cough syrup with soda or alcohol, or flavor it with candies.

What are other effects of cough and cold medication?

DXM abused causes loss of coordination, numbness, feeling sick to the the stomach, increased blood pressure, faster heartbeat, and rarely lack of oxygen to the brain, causing brain damage.

Can you get addicted?

You can become addicted after repeated high dosages.

Can you die from it?

Death can occur from the type with that contains codeine, because it slows down the central nervous system, which could stop the heart and lungs.

How many teens abuse this drug?

1.6% of 8th graders, 3.3% of 10 graders, and 4.6% of 12th graders abuse this drug.

What shoud you do if someone needs help?

For a crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-237-TALK. For information for a treatment, call the Substance Abuse Treatment Facility Locator at 1-800-662-HELP or visit For information for how to help a friend or family member visit the 'have a drug problem, need help' part of this website.

What drug does this drug belong in?

This drug is a hallocinigen.