“Triple C” is the street name for Coricidin HBP Cough & Cold, a common over-the-counter brand cold medication that is often misused by adolescents. Many Coricidin products include the cough suppressant dextromethorphan (DXM), a substance that can induce feelings of dissociation and hallucinations when ingested in high doses.
For this reason, Triple C is considered to have a moderate potential for abuse, but despite this, it remains uncontrolled by the federal government. As such, DXM products can be easily purchased without a prescription. The medication is considered to be very safe when used as directed, but misusing Coricidin products can result in coma or death. DXM is most often consumed orally, but when abused, it can also be snorted or injected.
While the sale of medications that contain DXM to minors has been outlawed in several states, many teenagers continue to obtain and misuse these drugs for their hallucinogen effects.
What Does Triple C Look Like?
Coricidin HBP is available in several formulations, including those intended for the treatment of cough and colds, chest congestion, and the flu. Some teens refer to these drugs as “Skittles” because the pills resemble popular candy. Other street names include CCC, Robo, and Poor Man’s PCP.
Commonly misused Triple C products include the following, which are all red in color:
- Coricidin HBP Cough & Cold – round tablets, 30mg
- Coricidin HBP Chest Congestion & Cough – softgel capsules, 10mg
- Coricidin HBP Maximum Strength Flu – oblong tablets, 15 mg
Youth who misuse Triple C usually consume high doses in pill form. Powdered forms of DXM, which are easily obtained on the internet, can also be snorted or injected. It is not known if the powder found in these forms is derived from Coricidin products, other DXM medications, or is completely synthesized by the makers.
Effects of Triple C
DXM has hallucinogenic properties that can alter a person’s perception and behavior. When abused, it can produce feelings of euphoria, delusions, and hallucinations. The higher the dose, the more pronounced the drug’s effects may become.
A Triple C high, also commonly referred to as “robotripping,” can result in the following adverse effects:
- Slurred speech
- Vision changes
- Impaired muscle control
- Irregular heartbeat
- Elevated blood pressure
- Stomach pain
- Brain damage
The effects of DXM products can persist for up to 6 hours when taken in excessive doses. The medication is considered to be safe and effective when 10-30 milligrams is taken every 6 hours. But higher doses, however, can cause severe reactions, including overdose.
Symptoms of a DXM overdose may include trouble breathing, intense hallucinations, high body temperature, seizures, and coma. Repeatedly consuming high doses of DXM can lead to toxic psychosis, a severe mental health condition in which an individual experiences a total disconnection from reality.
Coricidin products may also include ingredients other than DXM that can cause health issues. For instance, acetaminophen (i.e., Tylenol) can result in liver damage or even death when ingested in high doses.
Preventing Triple C Abuse
According to law enforcement, Triple C and other DXM products are most often misused by adolescents because they are relatively inexpensive and may be easier to obtain than, say, alcohol or illicit drugs. Teenagers may steal the medication from pharmacies and use it themselves or sell it to peers. For this exact reason, many retail stores keep DXM products behind the counter rather than allow them to be easily accessed on public shelves.
Parents are often oblivious to the fact that their child is misusing these products. However, a teenager who is using DXM recreationally may show several physical and behavioral changes, including the following:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Rapid eye movement
- Drowsiness and lethargy
Signs of Triple C abuse also include empty packaging in the trash (to be sure, check for the presence of DXM in the ingredients), missing products from the medicine cabinet, and poor academic performance. Teens who abuse Coricidin HBP may also exhibit agitation and hostility and be uncooperative with parents, teachers, and other authority figures.
Parents are encouraged to educate themselves on the effects of dextromethorphan. Understanding how the abuse of this medication can affect a person’s physical and psychological health can also help parents explain the risks of misusing these drugs to their children.
Teen internet access should be monitored because DXM and other dangerous substances are often sold online. Parents should also restrict access to the medicine cabinet and all medications in the house that contain DXM, benzodiazepines, opioids, or any other potentially psychoactive substances.
Treatment for Drug Abuse
The abuse of any substance can become a severe problem that has the potential to result in devastating consequences. Just Believe Recovery offers evidence-based treatment programs that include services essential for the recovery process, such as psychotherapy, individual and family counseling, peer group support, health and wellness programs, aftercare planning, and more.
We are committed to ensuring that every client receives the tools, support, and education they need to break free from drug abuse. Please contact us today to discover how we help people reclaim their lives and start their journey to long-lasting sobriety and wellness!