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Shoplifters Target Cold & Cough Medicines

November 1, 2012, 9:55 PM by Perry Groten

Shoplifters Target Cold & Cough Medicines

Some medicines are flying off the pharmacy shelves, but it's not necessarily because cold and flu seasons are approaching.  Sioux Falls police say there's been a jump in the number of thefts involving both cold and cough medications over the past month.  Teens are swiping the products for a cheap high.

Too many teens are willing to take their medicine, by the bottle full, with dangerous results.

"Not at eight ounces at a time and 16 ounces; that's a lot of liquid to drink.  Don't understand it," Lewis Drug Director of Pharmacy Bill Ladwig said.

The latest Youth Risk Behavior Survey finds twice as many South Dakota high school students are admitting to using cold medicine and cough syrup to get high.  And you can be sure they're not heeding the recommended dosage.

"With cognitive impairment, lack of balance, hallucinations, we really have a recipe for disaster," Prairie View Prevention Services Executive Director Darcy Jensen said.

The active ingredient in cough medicine, dextromethorphan, is the hallucinogenic holy grail teens are after.  And they're willing to steal to get it.

"If it's in capsule form, what we see them do is breaking into the box and just punch-out all of the tablets and put them in their pocket or coat or whatever and walk out," Jensen said.

Some states have restricted the sales of cough and cold medicines.  But Ladwig says banishing all these products behind the counter won't solve the problem.

"There's going to be a point where we're going to have more things behind the counter than we do in front of the counter because they're always looking for something else that's abusable," Ladwig said.

Ladwig says the key is to have parents informed about the warning signs and to know that an over-the-counter medicine that provides relief to so many patients can be abused in the wrong hands.

Sioux Falls police say money might also be motivating the medicine shoplifters.  They're selling the stolen products to other teens, who in turn, abuse the medicine.

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