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Abuse of over-the-counter drugs growing among students

By Spencer Musick

A shocking new trend of drug abuse is occurring on America's college campuses. Campus officials are discovering that the drugs being abused need not be purchased from an illicit source. Often, they can be purchased in a college bookstore or pharmacy.

A study published in 2006 in a pediatric medicine journal found that abuse of over the counter medicines had increased tenfold among those aged 15-20. Particularly, the popular over the counter cough suppressant Dextromethorphan (the active ingredient in most over-the- counter cough medicines) is seeing increased abuse among high school and college students. Dextromethorphan is taken at much higher doses than recommended to produce disassociative hallucinogenic effects.

In response to this alarming increase in over the counter drug abuse, many college bookstores have taken drugs containing Dextromethorphan off the shelves. Many adolescents erroneously assume that because these medicines are available without a prescription, they are safe to use recreationally.

Donna Mantooth, assistant professor of psychology at GHC, says that the drug abuse trend among high school and college students is a result of many mental and social factors, such as peer pressure.

"Adolescence is a period where young people are going through a myriad of psychological and physical changes. Drug abuse is a method of escape for many," Mantooth said.

Mantooth also stated that the drug abuse trend is especially an issue for college students who are getting their first taste of independence. "The lack of an accountability system is a primary reason that drug abuse is so widespread among college students."