Dec 15

Recent Surges in Illegal Substance Use Among South Lake Tahoe Teens

Recent reports from representatives at our local high school have issued warnings of increased use of cocaine use and DXM abuse. DXM is a common ingredient found in many over the counter (OTC) cough medicines.

Cocaine is an illegal highly addictive substance that can have serious long lasting detrimental effects on mental health. Cocaine is created by the native South American coca plant and appears as a fine, white crystal powder. Street dealers will often mix, or “cut”, it with other additives such as cornstarch, talcum powder, flour, baby laxatives, or other stimulants such as amphetamine (commonly known as meth, which is cheaper to produce). Popular slang terms include blow, coke, crack, rock, and snow. Individuals will typically either snort cocaine powder through the nose with a straw (dollar bills are also often used, so look for rolled up money with white residue) or ingested orally by being rubbed on the gums. Others may dissolve the powder in water and inject it into the blood stream, increasing the use of diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis C. Cocaine increasing dopamine in the brain, the pleasure circuit fo the brain, and disrupts normal brain communication, causing a “high” feeling.

Short term effects include extreme happiness and energy, mental alertness, hypersensitivity to sight, sound and touch, irritability, and paranoia. Large amounts can lead to bizarre, unpredictable, and violent behavior. Other effects include dilated pupils, raised body temperature and blood pressure, restlessness, tremors and muscle twitches, nausea, and an increased heartbeat. Those who are snorting cocaine often will also experience nosebleeds, loss of smell, frequent running nose, and trouble swallowing. Cocaine also decreases appetite so look for changes in your teens eating patterns and behaviors.

Cocaine is extremely dangerous to consume and overdoses ca cause serious harm of even death. Many who use cocaine may also use and consume alcohol and other drugs, which increases the risk of overdose. Overdose from cocaine often leads to a heart attack, stroke, or seizures.

Dextromethorphan (DXM) is a cough suppressant ingredient  found in many common over the counter (OTC) cough medicines. Abuse of DXM can lead to hallucinations and a loss of motor control. Other effects include confusion, dizziness, double or blurred vision, slurred speech, impaired physical condition, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, rapid heartbeat, drowsiness, numbness of fingers and toes, and disorientation. Continued abuse of DXM can cause serious injury to the liver and cardiovascular system. Trends with teens indicate that they often misuse DXM and mix it with alcohol, causing additional harmful effects. Other slang terms often used for DXM include: Dex, Robo, Skittles, Triple C, Tussin.

DXM can be easily purchased in local stores by anyone over the age of 18 as it is an over the counter medication.
One way to prevent DXM abuse is to keep a watchful eye for signs and symptoms from your teen and to dispose of any leftover medicine around the house. The South Tahoe Drug Free Coalition also offers prescription drug lock bags where you can safely store medications away from youth. to pick one up, visit Tahoe Youth and Family Services anytime between 9am-5pm Monday through Friday or contact DFC Coordinator, Kelsey Magoon, at kmagoon@tahoeyouth.org.

for more information on these substances, click on the following links: