What Are the Dangers of the Triple C Drug? - The Discovery House

What Are the Dangers of the Triple C Drug?

When it comes to drug abuse, people often focus on illegal substances or prescription opioids. Rarely do they consider the dangers of over-the-counter medications or simple cough syrup. If you’re a parent or you have teenaged relatives, you may not have even heard about a drug called Triple C. Whether for adults or teens, this article reviews the dangers of the triple C drug in complete detail so you can be aware of the risks.

First, what is the ‘triple C’ drug? Triple C is the street name given to Coricidin HBP Cough & Cold. This is a brand of over-the-counter cough and cold medicine that teens often abuse because of its psychoactive effects. Several Coricidin products contain dextromethorphan (DXM), a cough suppressant that can cause hallucinations and dissociation in high doses.

Triple C slang terms include:

  • Skittles
  • CCC
  • Candy
  • Robo
  • Red devils
  • Candy
  • Poor Man’s PCP

Since the federal government doesn’t regulate DXM products, adults can buy them without a prescription. Indeed, these medications are safe when used as instructed. However, 15 states have banned the sale of dextromethorphan medications to minors since Coricidin products can lead to coma or death when abused. Despite this, adolescents continue to abuse Triple C. In order to prevent your teen from abusing these medicines, you need to understand the dangers.

The three most commonly abused Coricidin products are:

  • Coricidin HBP Cough & Cold (Round, red tablets that contain 30 milligrams of dextromethorphan)
  • Coricidin HBP Chest Congestion & Cough (Red soft gel capsules that contain 10 milligrams of dextromethorphan)
  • Coricidin HBP Maximum Strength Flu (Oblong, red tablets that contain 10 milligrams of dextromethorphan

People who abuse Triple C often swallow large doses of pills. However, some people buy powdered dextromethorphan on the internet and snort, inject, or ingest it. These powders may be obtained from Coricidin products or other medications that contain dextromethorphan. These include Delsym, Vicks DayQuil Cough, Robitussin, 12-Hour Cough Relief, Sudafed, Mucinex, Tylenol, and Theraflu.

What Are the Effects of Triple C?

Dextromethorphan can alter a person’s perception and behavior but a lot depends on the dosage they take. The common usage of dextromethorphan for cough, cold, and flu symptoms, and when taken as intended, Triple C simply relieves symptoms.  That’s usually doses of 10 to 30 milligrams every six hours.

A person who takes 100 to 200mg is likely to experience just mild stimulation. However, hallucinations and euphoria are likely to set in with doses between 200 and 400mg. With a dosage of 300 to 600mg, individuals typically experience distorted visual perception and loss of motor coordination.

Meanwhile, dissociative sedation sets in with large doses of 500 to 1500mg of DXM. In addition to distorted perceptions of sights and sounds, individuals disassociate or detach from self and environment.

What Are the Side Effects of Triple C Ingestion?


The Triple C drug rarely causes side effects when it is taken according to the recommendations of the manufacturers or a medical professional.  However, when it is taken as a hallucinogen, it can cause side effects that vary from mild to severe. They include:

  • Stomach pain
  • Slurred speech
  • Vision changes
  • Brain damage
  • Poor muscle control
  • Nausea and abdominal pain
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Irregular heartbeat

The short-term side effects can last up to six hours when DXM is taken in excessively high doses. However, high doses can lead to a variety of adverse reactions including breathing difficulties, intense hallucinations, increased body temperature, seizures, and coma.

If high doses are taken repeatedly, individuals are at risk of developing toxic psychosis which is a mental condition in which a person loses touch with reality.

The effects of DXM aren’t the only thing to be concerned about when abusing Coricidin cough and cold medicines. Another thing to consider is that Coricidin products may contain medications other than dextromethorphan that can be harmful. For example, acetaminophen is commonly used to reduce fever and relieve pain. However, when taken in high doses, it can cause liver damage.

Can Triple C Become Addictive?

Triple C abuse doesn’t often lead to addiction. However, it’s possible for a person to develop a substance use disorder if the drug is regularly misused or abused. This is especially likely to occur in individuals who have underlying mental health problems.

Can You Overdose on Triple C?

It is possible to overdose on products containing DXM. If a person continually abuses Triple C, they will need higher and higher doses to feel the effects and this makes overdose more likely to occur. A Triple C overdose is considered a medical emergency and the affected individual must be seen by a professional.

Signs of a Triple C overdose include:

  • Blurred or double vision
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Fever
  • Profuse sweating
  • Hallucinations
  • Dissociation
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Coma
  • Death

If you suspect that you or a loved one has overdosed on DXM, call 911 right away. After the condition has stabilized, it is important to seek professional treatment in an effort to stop abusing Triple C.

Prevention of Triple C Abuse

Teen drug abuse can cause long-term harm to the brain. However, you can help to prevent your child from misusing Triple C. The first thing you need to do is to educate yourself on the risks associated with using dextromethorphan.

That way, you’ll be able to explain the dangers to your child. It’s also important that you keep an eye on your medicine cabinets and monitor your teen’s internet activity.

Many parents are unaware that their children are misusing cough and cold medicines. Since teens can’t purchase Coricidin over the counter, some steal it and sell it to their friends. This will all be done quite secretly. However, a teenager or an adult who has been misusing dextromethorphan or other cough medicines will show some physical and behavioral signs.

Signs of Cough Medicine Abuse

Physical indicators of Triple C drug abuse include:

  • Paranoia
  • Lethargy or drowsiness
  • Sweating
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Rapid eye movement

Behavioral indicators include:

  • Missing cough medicines from your medicine cabinet
  • Cough medicine packages in the trash
  • Declining school performance
  • Hostility and uncooperative behavior

You may also notice that your money or valuables are going missing or your teen is no longer interested in their usual hobbies. If you notice any of these signs, don’t ignore them. You need to talk to your teen. It’s possible that there could be going on besides drug abuse but given how serious Triple C misuse is, you need to be sure about what’s happening.

What to Do If Your Teen Using Triple C

If you ask your child if they’re using Triple C, they may lie in an effort to avoid getting into trouble. However, you need to let them know that you want them to be as healthy as possible and you’re there to support them. You may want to talk to a counselor or therapist beforehand to get some insight into how you should approach the conversation.

If your teen is finding it hard to stop abusing cough medicines even though they are experiencing negative consequences, they need professional treatment. You need to find a rehab facility that offers evidence-based programs that are designed to meet each individual’s specific needs.

If a person is addicted to Triple C, they may experience dangerous withdrawal symptoms if they suddenly stop using it. That’s why it’s best to undergo medically supervised detox. The timeline of Triple C withdrawal varies.

It can take 24 to 72 hours for Triple C to leave the body. However, symptoms can last for several weeks and during this time, the individual will experience drug cravings that put them at risk of relapse.

While you may be tempted to have your child detox in the privacy of your home, this isn’t advised. Without professional support, a person in withdrawal may be more uncomfortable and unsafe than they otherwise would be. Supervised detox can set the stage for the next step in the recovery journey.

In many cases, teens benefit from cognitive-behavioral therapy which is aimed at changing their thoughts and behaviors toward drugs. This is often used alongside other treatment modalities. If a teen has underlying mental health challenges, these should also be addressed in treatment.

Get Help from The Discovery House in Southern California

You don’t have to deal with your teen’s or loved one’s drug abuse on your own. The team at The Discovery House is here to help you navigate this difficult time. We offer a range of evidence-based therapies and each patient benefits from a customized treatment program. Addiction treatment for Triple C dependence can be highly effective so there’s no need to fear that all hope is lost. Give us a call and we’ll answer all your questions.