A bill recently signed into law by Texas Governor Greg Abbott outlaws Texas residents younger than 18 years of age from purchasing over-the-counter medication containing dextromethorphan, a cough suppressant that can commonly be used to get high when taken in large doses.
More specifically, the new law takes aim at brand name products such as Robitussin and NyQuil.
A 2017 study from the National Institute on Drug Abuse shows that approximately 3% of teenagers who are high school seniors were shown to have engaged in taking increased doses of cough medicine with the intention of getting high.
The bill signed by Governor Abbott, known as House Bill 1518, was initially introduced by Democratic Representative Garnet Coleman of Houston. Coleman stated that he was introducing the bill for consideration in the hopes that it would prevent teenagers in the state of Texas from using cough medicine as a form of gateway drug that would eventually lead to them using other substances that are more dangerous in nature.
Texas Tech Pharmacy School’s Charles Seifert has gone on record of stating that perhaps the biggest issue comes when the ingredients in medication like cough syrup are mixed together. Seifert was quoted as stating the following:
“If those are taken with alcohol or with other opioids, or with some sleeping medicine for example, it can be deadly. It’s not just abuse, but it’s also very dangerous.”
For comparison purposes, two of the main ingredients contained in cough syrup are dextromethorphan and codeine. These two ingredients are considered to be derivatives of opioids.
Furthermore, Seifert praised the new law signed by Governor Abbott by calling it an investment in combating drug addiction among teenagers across the state.
“It’s very important because the statistics are very clear that your mind is still forming up until you’re about 18 to 20 years old.”
The new law will not officially take effect until September 1; however, those younger than 18 years of age will still be able to purchase medication to help treat either a cold or a cough until that time. The only exception is that the medication they purchase must not contain dextromethorphan.
It was also noted that the new law does not apply to all products that are classified as being cough medicine. This is because the bill itself is designed to help crack down on ingredients that are derivatives of opioids.
Additionally, any stores located throughout the state of Texas who are found to be in violation of the new law will, at first, receive a warning. If they are found to be in violation of the law for a second time, they will receive a fine totaling $150. Any further violations will see locations receive a $250 fine per violation.
In addition to the state of Texas, there are a total of 18 other states across the United States who have passed laws to those signed by Governor Abbott that restrict access to medications containing dextromethorphan by anyone under 18 years of age.
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