HCMC teens pill-pop cough medicine to boost morale

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A number of middle school students in Ho Chi Minh City have been found using a cough suppressant in the belief that the drugs can boost their spirit and improve performance.

At around 8 a.m. on Friday, November 25, teachers at Khanh Hoi A Secondary School in District 4 saw a lot of students fall asleep during class.

Twenty-eight of around 50 students, who were asked to meet with the principal, later confessed to the school managing board they had taken tablets of Recotus a cough medicine with some saying they had taken 6-7 tablets at the same time.

Local police were asked to investigate. The police found the students had bought the over-the-counter medicine from a group of vendors who usually gathered in front of the school gate to get the students to buy the pills.

According to the police, it is very easy to buy the medicine, and it is cheap as well. A pack of 10 tablets costs only VND7,000-8,000 (33 US cents).

The vendors boasted that the pills can make students feel excited and dispel fears of teachers, lessons and homework, police said.

The management board then issued a warning that students should not use the Recotus at will. However, some ignored the warning.

"Currently, there are five to six students, who have become addicted to the medicine, and have been placed under close watch," said Nguyen Van Nhan, a supervisor at the school.

Cao Thi Tuyet Mai, deputy chief of District 4 Education Office, said the office had asked all primary and middle schools in the district to warn students against the use of Recotus and requested police to stop the vendors from entering schools.

According to doctors, Recotus contains two main ingredients: dextromethorphan, which has several side effects including dizziness, drowsiness, lightheadedness, nervousness, nausea, stomach pain and vomiting; and diprophyllin, which can cause high blood pressure and heart beat disorders when abused.

People should not take more than four tablets of Recotus per day, and each tablet should be taken every six hours, doctors said.

At doses higher than medically recommended, dextromethorphan is classified as a dissociative hallucinogen. Certain effects are similar to the dissociative agents ketamine and phencyclidine (PCP). It can produce distortions of the visual field - feelings of dissociation, distortions of bodily perception, excitement, as well as a loss of comprehension of time.

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