Misty Fetko, a mother of two teenagers, got up early to walk the dog before she roused her boys from bed one summer day in 2003. Her eldest, Carl, a gifted guitar player and award-winning artist at his Ohio high school, never woke up.
“His friends told me his smile made their day,” Fetko said of her 18-year-old, who had just been accepted to Memphis College of Art.
In the past, she had found empty bottles of Robitussin in their suburban New Albany home, but she had no idea Carl had a 2Â½ year drug habit. Fetko’s skills as an emergency room nurse were of no use when she entered Carl’s bedroom and administered CPR. She discovered he had died in his sleep of an accidental overdose of the cough syrup Robitussin.
“There were no other signs,” said Fetko, who since then has helped others as a spokeswoman for the Partnership for a Drug-Free America. “I think Carl and his friends were under the impression that it was harmless because it was not illegal. There is a false sense of security, and it’s so subtle: no smell, no needles, no drug dealers, you don’t need a lot of money to buy it and you can use it after mom and dad go to bed.”
“Robotripping” â€” getting a hallucinogenic high with cold and cough medicines like Robitussin â€” has increased 10-fold since 1999, according to a California Poison Control Center study released this week. The trend is nationwide, according to the six-year study on over-the-counter drug use, published in the December issue of Archive Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.
In the three years since Carl’s death, which was reported by ABC News, use among even younger teens has increased 15-fold, according to the study. An estimated 75.4 percent of all users were between the ages of 9 and 17.
From California to Massachusetts, poison control centers answer more calls for near-fatal overdoses among teenagers, and many cases go unreported. This week, in El Dorado, Calif., seven high school students were rushed to the emergency room after swallowing five to eight tablets each of the cold remedy Coricidin.
Source: ABC News