Cheboygan Area Tribune
                           "Weekend Tribune"

                     March 13 through March 15, 1998

                           123rd Year * No. 51

1A: (Cover Page)

                                EASY ACCESS
                      The latest fix is over-the-counter

                             by Brenda Webb
                            Tribune Staff Writer

CHEBOYGAN - "Jane" sits cross-legged on her twin bed, shoulders slumped, eyes
betraying pain and fear for a friend.

She's afraid for him, of what he's doing to himself. He's A drug addict. 

But his drug of choice isn't coacine or heroine, crack, or LSD. He's hooked on DXM,
an ingredient in cold medicine, taken not to relieve cold symptoms but for recreational

"He used to do it everyday, but he's still addicted," Jane said. "He's trying to quit.

Young people in Cheboygan and in other area communites have been abusing DXM by
taking several times the recommended dosage, she said.

Jane personally knows of about 50 Cheboygan Area Schools students who've abused
the drug. Estimates are that the total is somewhere around 100, said Debra Turnbull of
CHIP Counseling Center.

"Several students were taken to the hospital and held for overdose," Turnbull said.
"Several students were referred here for assessment. Several students were sent away
for resident treatment.

"The parents were alerted to the harmful side effects, att the parents that were
involved," she said.

But for Jane's parents, "Mr and Mrs. Jones" of Cheboygan, it wasn't enough. More
could be done to prevent other familes from going through the agony they have
experienced with Jane's addiction to DXM, they said/

"There's some simpl ethings that could be done to deal with the problem, like make it
not so available," Mr. Jones said.

It's a ver accessible drug, found at any pharmacy or store that sells cold medicines,
said Turnbull.

In November, when there was a high incidence of use, area stores were asked to take it
off the shelves and put it behind the counter, where it could be available to adults on
request, she said. Some stores in town did not cooperate, and others owners have since
returned it to the shelves, Turnbull said.

At that time, paraphernalia was confiscated from cars, lockers and wherever it was
found, and school officials were very clear that students were not to take it, she said.

Some kids drive to Petoskey because it's really easy to get there, and they steal a whole
bunch, said Jane.

"A lot of kids steal it because it's so expensive," she said. "I try no to do anything like
that, because it would make me feel like a drug addict."

Use among students is now on the rise again, Jane said. And it's not limited to the kids
that get in trouble a lot.

"Some of the kids at high school that do it are really `good," she said. "They think it's
just medicine."

That DXM s so easy to get, and kids feel it's not really dangerous becasue it's legal are
the two biggest factors with this drug, Mr. Jones said.

"They have no cluse, these kids," said Turnbull. "They think if you can pick it up at a
pharmacy, pick it up at a grocery store, how could it be dangerous?" 

Harmul side effects can include headaches, liver damage, respiratory failure, irregular
heartbeat, hemorrhaging, stroke, and high blood pressure.

In addition DXM is an appetite supressant, so weight loss occurs and there is no food
in the stomach to absorb the effects of the drug. Turnbull said.

DXM is not new to Michigan, and deaths have occured in other areas, she said.

Memory problems; strong, emotional mood swings; lower sex drive in males, and
increased sex drive in females; dried out skin and hair; and turning a pale yellowish
color after prolonged use are side affects listed by Jane.

"You can get really confused on it, like you don't know where you are," she said.
"When my parents were talking to me, I would just stare at them. I would be aware that
they were talking to me" and would just say anything in hope that they'd go away.

Jane compared the high to heroin.

"It makes them hyperactive, sort of like a street speed - not exactly speed, but you
know, they're getting that type of feeling," said pharmacist Mike Flyke of The
Prescription Place. "Everything's racing, because of the decongestant."

Abusers can feel the rush for 12-16 hours, followed by a deep, coma-like sleep that
lasts for about 14 hours, Turnbull said.

If too much is taken, DXM can cause hallucinations and one can

Continued on page 6A

Page 6A:

Continued from page 1A

have an out-of-body experience, said Jane.

"People that I know that have really been doing it, it's really strongly addictive," she
said. "I know kids that have gotten so addicted to it they didnt care about anything.
Some people are so addicted they take it continuously every day."

For some time, Mr. and Mrs. Jones did'nt know what was going on with Jane. She
was impulsive, lost weight, had mood swings and lots of energy. She was euphoric,
and then would sleep and not be able to function for awhile, they said.

"It was really hard to detect, because the DXM does'nt have any smell like pot or
alchol," Mrs. Jones said. "I kept thinking there was something wrong with her, but I
couldn't figure out what the heck it was."

Then Jane came home one night totally stoned, said Mr. Jones.

"It was obvious she had taken some serious drugs," he said. "It was beyond acting

Jane said she'd taken some cold medicine and it made her woozy, said Mr. Jones. Her
mother called Jane's friend who had introduced her to DXM, and pulled out of him
what she'd taken.

Although Jane stopped using DXM for awhile, she came home high again one night,
he said.

"I took her to the emergency room that night and they didn't know what to do," Mrs.
Jones said. "The emergency room didnt know how to help thses kids and they didn't
seem to really care."

If necessary, the hospital treats overdose patients for toxinsm said Community
Memorial Hospital emergency room physician Dr. Donald Ramsay, who is aware of
only one teenager treated there as a result of DXM.

That person was not in danger and did not need treatment, he said.

"(DXM) has little if any effect in small doses," Ramsay said. "It probably requires
extremely large quanities in order to cause (unusual effects).

"In a relative scale of things, it's probably not as dangerous as a lot of things kids are
doing out there, including alcohol, "he said. "From the emergency room standpint,
what we do is, when they come in, if they're sick we treat them."

Drug tests are generally sent to an outside lab, and results are unavailable for days, said

In her battle with DXM, Jane has been involved in various tyoes of treatment for
substance abuse and depression, her parents said.

"We've done everything we can to help her," said Mrs. Jones. "We just don't know
what more we can do. The longer she can go off of it, the more she sees what it did to

"What's so frusterating is ... you just want to take her and shake her," she said. "It just
seems like so much of a choice."

Jane lost her job, is almost 17, and doesnt yet have her liscense, has gotten into some
trouble, and has lost friends, her parents said.

Now, although the Jones feel Jane still takes DXM occasionally, their concern is for
others in the community as well, said Mr. Jones.

"Some kid is going to die from it," said Mrs. Jones. "It's so easy to get. Anybody's
kid, it can happen to.

A Cheboygan teenager took a package of information off the Internet, according to
Turnbull. It explains how to take the drug "safely." 

Jane didn't bother to read it. And her parents and Turnbull are concernec about
youngsters in junior high and elementary school getting involved with DXM without
knowing the hazards, they said.

What;s so frusterating is that as parents you think your going to protect your kids from
drugs, Mr. Jones said. you don't let them go out all the time and try to keep them away
from bad influences.

For Jane, it was a matter of being bored one day, she said. 

Depression and a shortage of of things to do for kids not involved in sports are
contributiong factors, said Mrs. Jones.

For more information, call CHIP Counseling Center, or contact a physician or
pharmacist, said Turnbull


On page 1A: (Cover Page) 
There is a picture of the cough-medicine isle in the local Wal*Mart. It displays the
wrong kind of medicines that contain DXM, which I think is kind of stupid, because
the younger kids, and even the older kids will see that, and think that is what they are
supposed to take. Which will cause more havoc, because the medicnes pictured contain
toxins such as Guafinesin, Acetiminophen, ETC.. Below the picture it states:

Cold medicines are being abused by youth in Cheboygan and surrounding
communities. Parents suspecting a problem are advised to contact CHIP Counseling

There is a small picture of a shot glass with some liquid in it, and some various pills.

Cheboygan Daily Tribune
Letters To The Editor (Brenda Webb)
308-10 N. Main ST.
Cheboygan, MI 49721

(616) 627-7144
(616) 627-7145
(616) 627-7146

CHIP Counseling Center
Debra Turnbull
520 N. Main ST.
Cheboygan, MI 49721

(616) 627-7148