Access to Legal Drugs Fueling Teen Drug Culture

"The major instigator of the OTC problem is that they are so readily available," says Doering. "Unlike pseudoepinephrine [another cough mixture drug], which has been moved behind the pharmacy counter, DXM can be purchased at gas stations, grocery stores and wherever else it is sold."

In light of this, much of the blame, Collins says, lies with the pharmaceutical companies themselves.

"Some responsibility falls back on the drug companies for putting these things on the market," Collins says. "I think the drug companies need to be much more responsible."

The medical community may also share in the blame, Saper says.

"In the past five years, we have seen kids coming in who are on narcotics for mild headaches, and many times they are taking relatively huge amounts of OxyContin," Saper says. "It was actually unheard of 10 to 15 years ago for a doctor to put anyone on narcotics for headaches, much less kids.

"The medical community has to get a grip on the amount of opiates it is giving out uncontrolled," Saper says. "The medical community has got to respond to this threat, and it is hard because most of medical education is supported by drug companies."

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