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OTC Binge or Suicide Attempt?
DXM & CPM (Coricidin)
by nursemom
Citation:   nursemom. "OTC Binge or Suicide Attempt?: An Experience with DXM & CPM (Coricidin) (exp97647)". Sep 1, 2017.

80 tablets oral DXM
  80 tablets oral Chlorpheniramine Maleate
  80 tablets oral Acetaminophen


I am writing to relate an experience we had with our son. This is hopefully a cautionary tale for some of you out there who may get the same ideas and it may also provide a little insight into what the families of substance abusers go through. I’m not going to get preachy, though so don’t worry. I will just stick to the facts. I am a registered nurse who works at a local hospital. My job takes me all over the hospital, so I get to know staff on all the units rather well.

Our middle son started drinking and huffing around age 11, per his recollection. He has said that he never used “hard” drugs like coke, heroin, crack, etc. He has pretty much stuck to OTC drugs like Coricidin, robotripping (Robitussin,) huffing anything he could get his hands on, including ether (we keep a can handy to start the tractor on cold mornings). Of course, alcohol is his favorite and he did a lot of mixing booze with the drugs. This led to criminal activity-petty stuff like breaking into neighbor’s houses to steal their booze. He broke into his school when he was high and did some damage. Long story short, he’s been in and out of juvenile detention, rehab, jail-we’ve been on this rollercoaster with him and it has broken and rebroken our hearts. I wish I’d known more-I wonder over and over and over again what more we could have done to help him. A younger friend of mine directed me here to Erowid and thus began my education.

The incident I wish to relate to you happened while my son was in a work release program. He had been going to the library, researching drugs-as it turns out, he was actually looking up ways that he could get high and still give clean urine specimens to his probation officer. Coricidin was it. Now the incident in question has been disputed as to whether it was a true overdose or a suicide attempt. He has changed his story on that one. I was at work and got a call from the ER doc asking me if my son had a seizure disorder. Apparently, he was standing outside the library and was observed to have fallen and begun seizing. A bystander called 911 and he was brought to my hospital. I rushed downstairs just as they were wheeling him into cat scan due to him having hit his head on the sidewalk.

I told the doc to do a tox screen, but it revealed nothing. The doc asked if he’d ever done cocaine and I said not to my knowledge, but he could never afford that—it must be something OTC. His pulse and BP were through the roof, which is why a stimulant was suspected. All they could do was throw fluids into him and keep him monitored and repeat labs. He was in the ICU for a full 48 hours. He had hallucinations whereby he’d be reaching out to grab something in the air in front of his face. He would be tripping like that and then look over at me and start crying and saying how sorry he was and then he kept saying 'I can’t believe I wanted to die, mom-I took 80 pills.' Because of these statements, I did 302 him to behavioral health but he was not observed there and managed to slit his wrists and was put back into the ICU.

He was despondent for weeks after that. The psychiatrist said he could not give us a diagnosis (therefore, the medication was hit or miss—the usual, antidepressant, antianxiety, ADHD med). He said that because our son had been using since age 11, the substance abuse disorder clouded whatever psychological diagnosis could be made.

Altering the brain chemistry during such an important developmental period blah blah blah, couldn’t determine the actual specific disorder, blah blah blah. He simply told my husband and I to keep our marriage strong so our son had that stable family base and to attend Alanon meetings. Which we did, and got some good insights from but have not continued.

Our son blew yet another chance and is now in jail again, serving 4 years this time for breaking into a house while high (he’d walked away from his program) and encountering the homeowners, who had a loaded gun to his head when they realized he was just a kid who was high as a kite-he did not steal a thing. He was rowing a pretend boat in their kitchen, thinking he was a pirate seeking treasure. They had every right to shoot him and did not, despite being scared out of their minds. This was Coricidin and booze...again.

I am sorry I cannot give you more specific info as to how many is too many, because it surely depends on body size and weight. But that is what is problematic about this drug. Too much? Seizures, coma, and death seems to be about the order of things. You do have out of body experiences with this drug as well. I hope this is useful info to somebody out there. All I know is after this experience, even our docs hadn’t heard about this drug being abused and they are now that much wiser. Thanks for listening.

Exp Year: 2009ExpID: 97647
Gender: Male 
Age at time of experience: 20 
Published: Sep 1, 2017Views: 7,459
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Drug Testing (59), Chlorpheniramine Maleate (164), DXM (22) : Hospital (36), Second Hand Report (42), Train Wrecks & Trip Disasters (7), Health Problems (27)

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