Have a Cold? You Might Need ID to Buy Medicine


Randi Goldman

Many cold medicines/ cough syrups contain substances that are used as pain relief.

Randi Goldman, Staff Writer

It’s cold season, and pretty much everyone is getting sick. But getting medicine like cough syrups and cold medicines may be more challenging than many think.

When I woke up with a stuffed nose. I knew this would happen because my brother and sister had been sick for a week already. There was no medicine in my house, which meant my mom had to go pick some up. My mom was busy pretty much all day, and I went with her to the gym, to her office, and finally to Target.

My mom and I went into the store and picked up some snacks and one of the big dual packs of DayQuil and NyQuil. We walked around some more and my mom realized she forgot her wallet, so she went back to her car to get it. After a few minutes of feeling really awkward standing alone with a cart full of cold medicine, cookies, and goldfish crackers (obviously the pizza kind), she came back. We got in line, and after the cashier hit total, there was a screen that popped up asking for I.D. My mom and I had never experienced this and were confused at first, however the cashier said that younger people use cough syrup and cold medicines “as a way to get high.”

I had no clue that DayQuil or NyQuil could have that effect on anyone. I guess I’m pretty sheltered despite going to public school. However, I was not the only person who was unaware of the effects cold medicine can have on people. I told my best friend, who is a senior here at Santaluces, that a sales associate had to check my mom’s ID over DayQuil. She was confused, like me, and asked me if I was being serious. I soon found out that in January of 2016, a law had been made. It banned people who were under 18 from buying cough syrup, and it said that I.D. needed to be checked whenever someone purchases cough syrup. However, Florida is only of of the 11 other states with a ban similar to this as of last year.

According to the NIH (National Institute on Health) and the NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse), some of the medicines used to treat colds and coughing have “psychoactive ingredients in high doses.” Psychoactive is defined as mind altering. There are also possibilities that there are other drugs like antihistamines (which can cause sedation), in these cold medicines.  Cough medicines are often mixed with other substances and taken in higher-than-prescribed doses in the case of abusing drugs.  This phenomenon is often called “robe-tripping” by younger people who abuse cough syrup/cold medicines.

The NIDA also says that abusing cough syrup could lead to liver damage due to overuse of a certain pain reliever commonly found in cough syrups. Abusing cough syrup can not only damage your liver, but it can also cause “hypoxic brain damage” due to lack of oxygen going to the brain, and when abusing cough syrup it is not uncommon to overdose on it and die. According to the DEA, the American Association of Poison Control Centers, there was at least 45,748 “case mentions” and 33,811 “single exposures.” There were also six deaths involved.

Much like many other inventions, cough syrups and cold medicines are meant to help people. However, they can be very dangerous when consumed in higher doses than prescribed. Stay safe and feel better this cold and flu season!