Dextromethorphan Abuse on Rise Among California Teens

Calls to poison control hotline increased 50 percent each year over five-year period

MONDAY, Dec. 4 (HealthDay News) -- Calls to a poison control hotline involving dextromethorphan abuse increased nearly 10-fold in California over a five-year period, and most of the calls involved children or teenagers, researchers report in the December issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

Jodi K. Bryner, Pharm.D., of the University of California San Francisco, and colleagues found that from 1999 to 2004, there were 1,411 calls to the 24-hour California Poison Control System that were coded as dextromethorphan abuse. Of these calls, 1,382 were non-duplicate cases.

Overall, the number of reported cases of dextromethorphan abuse increased from 0.23 per 1000 calls in 1999 to 2.15 per 1000 calls in 2004. Three-quarters of the reported cases of abuse occurred in children and teens aged 9 to 17. Calls to the hotline for dextromethorphan abuse increased by about 50 percent each year compared with the previous year.

"It is important for health care practitioners, manufacturers and retail establishments selling dextromethorphan-containing products to be aware of increasing dextromethorphan abuse to educate and hopefully prevent dextromethorphan abuse and the ensuing toxicity from occurring," the authors conclude. "Preventive measures, such as placing dextromethorphan-containing products behind pharmacy counters, may be an effective action to limit this increasing trend of abuse in adolescents."

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