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Guest Column: Reducing Our Children's Risk for Abusing Drugs

State Representative Anne Gonzales
January 6, 2016
Republican Newsroom

Press Release Poster

According to the CDC, we are in the height of flu season, meaning many of us will find ourselves running to the local pharmacy to pick up some cold medicine. The most common over-the-counter cough medicines, however, contain an ingredient called dextromethorphan. While low doses of this ingredient are key to helping us fight our cold, some youth have taken up the practice of drinking an entire bottle, which can prove fatal.

Robotussin is the most common cough syrup that contains dextromethorphan, explaining why the practice of consuming mass quantities has become known as “robotripping.” Many participate in the act of consuming an entire bottle because they hope to achieve a high or hallucinogenic state. What many youth do not understand, however, is that although cough syrup is available over-the-counter, it does not mean the effects are less harmful than hard drugs. Many youth are naïve to the fact that cough medicine overdoses can be deadly.

Recently, the Ohio House of Representatives passed legislation to address this problem. House Bill 197 prohibits the sale of dextromethorphan to any person under the age of 18 without a prescription and makes any violation of that a minor misdemeanor. This bill ensures that retailers, distributors, and their employees cannot provide this drug to unassuming children. Although major retail chains already require the purchaser to show identification, this is not a requirement at local convenience or gas station stores.

The legislation stipulates that sellers of drugs containing dextromethorphan have to request proof of the purchaser’s age if they presume that they are not 25 or older. Otherwise, persons who do not appear at least 25 must show a driver’s license or related identification that has their name, birthdate, description, and picture. Sellers must also use a cash register with an age verification feature for all sales including this drug that are over the counter and without a prescription.

In today’s growing pharmaceutical industry, it can be easy to assume these commonly advertised drugs will have minimal consequences. By passing HB 197, we are simply preventing our youngest generation from making that dangerous assumption. This bill helps to ensure our children cannot overdose on a drug they do not fully understand the danger of.

As Health and Aging Committee chair, I take this piece of legislation very seriously and am continuing to find the best solutions to the drug addiction problem. Ohio is a great state and I will continue to do my best to serve the constituents of the 19th district so that we can continue to build a prosperous, drug-free community.