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Four Students Hospitalized After Taking "Snurf" Pills

Posted by Chrissie Cole
Wednesday, September 10, 2008 6:47 PM EST
Category: Protecting Your Family
Tags: Major Medical, FDA and Prescription Drugs, Snurf, DMX, Dextromethorphan, Teens, Herbal Supplements


IMAGE SOURCE: © iStockPhoto / Dextromethorphan / author: Fvasconcellos

Four high school students from Council Rock High School in Newton, Pennsylvania have been hospitalized for possible overdoses after ingesting an herbal supplement known as “SNURF.”

It is not entirely clear what ingredients are in the Snurf products. But, reported symptoms by Snurf user’s points to dextromethorphan, a cough suppressant widely abused among teens for its sedative and hallucinogenic properties.

Dextromethorphan, also known as DMX or dex among users, is a cough suppressant drug found in many over-the-counter medications, according to Deborah Levine, MD, attending physician at New York’s Bellevue Hospital.

She recently published a landmark study on “pharming,” the abuse of nonprescription and prescription drugs by teenage users.

“One in 10 kids – from 7th grade up to 12th grade - has reported using DMX,” Levine tells WebMD.

The use of illegal drugs by teens has declined, but the use of DMX and over-the-counter drugs has surged starting with teens in grade eight up grade 12, says Michael Windle, PhD, chair of behavior science and health education at Emory University.

When purchasing Snurf pills, the teens may not have been intending to purchase DMX. Users say the package lists its “herbal” ingredients as “Fevizia, De la Amazon and Palenzia.” But, according to several references, no such herbs exist.

The herbal title falsely leads teens to believe the drugs are safe and maybe even healthy, warns Windle. “This is a sharp-witted marketing guise to sell the products online, taking away any guilt teens may have had about drug use.”

Taken in higher doses than recommended, DMX acts as a dissociative hallucinogenic drug producing similar symptoms as seen in those using ketamine, an unsafe and commonly abused drug known as “special K.” Symptoms can include depression, memory loss, anxiety, and impaired sense of self, amongst other effects.

At the level of doses the kids are taking – six to 12 times that of the recommended dosage – the user experiences serious toxicities, especially when taken with something else, like alcohol, which depresses respirations and can cause a fatal outcome.

Taken in lower doses, impairments still occur and teens can find themselves in dangerous situations. It is the combination of impairment and toxicity that leads to harm.

Levine warns parents to take stock of the drugs in their medicine cabinets, including both prescription and nonprescription medications. #

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