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An 18-year-old man died Saturday after he combined cough syrup and caffeine to get high, a practice medical experts warn is prevalent among young people.
Anthony Gray, a Far-Southside resident, and Ricky Harris, 18, Greenwood, had read on the Internet how to get high by combining Vicks Formula 44 and caffeine, according to a Marion County sheriff's report.
Gray and Harris consumed a bottle of Vicks and caffeine pills at 11 p.m. Friday, then smoked marijuana about six hours later.
At about 5:30 a.m. Saturday, Gray complained he was sick and went into the bathroom at his home in the 2100 block of Friendship Drive.
When Harris checked on him later, Gray was on the floor unconscious, police said.
He was taken to Community Hospital South, where he was pronounced dead.
Dr. James Mowry, director of the Indiana Poison Control Center, said young people seek out cough syrup for the dextromethorphan, or DXM, which can produce a euphoric high, and because it can be bought over the counter.
"Kids find that if you take large amounts of it you can get a high like PCP but without the violence," Mowry said.
DXM is contained in 125 nonprescription cough and cold medications, including brands of Robitussin and Coricidin.
The chemical can cause hallucinations, a feeling that you are removed from your body and paranoia, Mowry said.
He said overdoses from DXM are "something that is reported as being prevalent."
Marion County Coroner John Linehan said a person "could die pretty easily" by consuming a bottle of cough syrup.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration last month issued a warning about DXM abuse. The FDA said five teenagers recently have overdosed by taking a powdered form of DXM.
The American Association of Poison Control Centers' Toxic Exposure Surveillance System said the reports of DXM overdoses have doubled in the past five years.
The American Medical Association has recommended banning over-the-counter sales of cough and cold medicines to people under 18.