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Prescott police warn public about skittling

PRESCOTT--Prescott Police Chief Mike R. Bondarenko issued a warning to parents to be aware of "skittling," which is slang for a new form of drug abuse that has become popular among local teenagers.

"Skittling" is getting high from ingesting large doses of over-the-counter cold remedies that in pill form look like the popular candy Skittles.

"Teenagers call cold medicines 'Skittles,' 'red devils,' 'Robo,' 'crazy eights' or CCC. Coricidin brand cold medicine and Robotusin brand cough syrup are among the most popular local 'Skittling' medications," Bondarenko said. "Doctors say teenagers take large doses of over-the-counter non-prescription cold medications because these drugs make them feel, at the very least, like they are intoxicated."

The active ingredient in Coricidin and Robotusin is the cough suppressant dextromethorphan (DXM) which, when taken in large doses, produces a "high" similar to alcohol intoxication. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, DXM is found in more than 140 over-the-counter non-prescription cough and cold medications. "Skittling" is really the abuse of DXM, the chief said.

Four Prescott juveniles have admitted to "Skittling" since Nov. 1. One teenager told an officer "Skittling" is a way to "get high" without smelling like alcohol or risking arrest for possession of an illegal substance.

"Parents need to be very aware of this form of drug abuse because over-the-counter non-prescription cough and cold medications are readily available. It is not illegal to possess or use these products," Bondarenko said. "However, when these medications are abused, there can be serious medical and behavioral consequences. The drug has produced seizures or hallucinations in some children, and there have been deaths in other states."

Bondarenko urged parents to be aware of indications of "Skittling," such as lethargy, slurred speech, hyper-excitability and hallucinations, as well as closely monitor supplies of over-the-counter non-prescription drugs in their homes.

"Better yet, keep all drugs under lock and key and dispense them only when necessary to treat symptoms," he recommended.

Bondarenko said parents may obtain additional information on "Skittling" and other forms of teenage drug abuse from the National Institute on Drug Abuse at their web site