Four students to emergency room after consuming OTC medication

Four local junior high students were taken to the Pagosa Mountain Hospital emergency room Thursday after overdosing on over-the-counter (OTC) cold medication.

According to Archuleta School District 50 Joint Superintendent Mark DeVoti, one student admitted to stealing the medications from a local grocery store, then passed the medication on to three other students.

Late Thursday morning, one of the students reported to the nurse’s office complaining of not feeling well and was sent home for the day. Less than an hour later, another student checked in with the nurse and, according to DeVoti, the nurse became suspicious. A conversation with the nurse and a school counselor led to the student admitting to taking the cold medicine, as well as naming the other students involved.

According to DeVoti, it was believed by the students involved that the cold medication in question could, if used in sufficient amounts, cause hallucinations. In fact, the medication involved — Coricidin — has become increasingly popular among high school students over the past few years for its ability to generate euphoria as well as visual and auditory hallucinations. Among the street names used for the drug (and its analogue, Robitussin) are Triple C’s, Skittles, DXM and The Poor Man’s PCP.

Although details of the incident are still developing, Pagosa Springs Junior High Principal Chris Hinger said that, “As a matter of policy, the student who distributed the medications faces automatic expulsion for one calendar year.”

However, that student cannot be charged with any crime, according to Pagosa Springs Police Chief Jim Saunders. “We consulted with the DA and, because the drugs involved were over-the-counter medications and perfectly legal, there were no charges we could file.”

Hinger said school officials have asked City Market to pull Coricidin and Robitussin from shelves so that it would not be readily accessible to children. However, as of press time, City Market would not confirm that it had restricted availability to the medication.

Check the Thursday, May 21, edition of The SUN for more details and information on this story.

jim@pagosasun.com