Get Ready To Show ID When Buying Cough Syrup

In a move that we still haven’t processed the logic behind, Stop and Shop will now require young people to prove they are 18 by showing ID before buying cough medicines that contain Dextromethorphan. Cough syrups, for example Robitussin, will produce a hallucinogenic experience if, say, one was to drink the entire bottle. Also, you might die.

This, naturally, sends the message that Dextromethorphan is a more appropriate drug to abuse at age 18 than alcohol. —MEGHANN MARCO

Stop & Shop: Must be 18 to buy cough syrup [Boston Herald]

MC Chris – The Tussin (MP3)


Edit Your Comment

  1. B says:

    So, this is a regulation passed by the governmental body of Stop and Shop? Is it even legal for one company to arbitrarily refuse to sell a product to specific customers?

  2. TinaB says:

    I just started working at Target, and the cash register system prompts me for an ID every time cold/cough medicine is purchased. One guest pretty much laughed in my face and I had to explain that if you look under 40, I have to check ID.

  3. demonradio says:

    I think that’s awesome. Kids are stupid and will try to get high off of anything. In high school years ago, there was one group of kids who loved to “robotrip.” I’m not sure how much of it was placebo and how much of it was actual tripping, but they claimed to see lots of trippy stuff. One of them was 18 and in the 11th grade. I think that pretty much shows the general intelligence of the kids at *my* high school doing this.

  4. enm4r says:

    I’ve been to a few CVS that require you to show ID for various over the counter medications, but they don’t do it to check to see if you’re 18, they do it to track buying habits to hopefully put a stop to people buying it to use to make and produce stronger recreational drugs.

    The guy I asked about it said they had never kept a customer from buying something, and that he didn’t know if anyone really ever looked at the logs he was required to keep. But either way, it’s not to stop us from buying medication when we’re sick, it’s to stop mass buying of the flagged ingredients that are trendy to abuse.

  5. Ben Popken says:

    This is going to put a serious dent in my Robotripping.

  6. enm4r says:

    I was also going to add, but forgot above, that a lot of places require you to be 18 to buy a Sharpie. If it works for a marker, I don’t see why there would be complaints about medication.

  7. Youthier says:

    I have to show my ID and sign a stack of paper at the pharmacy to buy DayQuill now because of the stupid meth addicts. There’s nothing more fun than being completely miserable after a long day at work and getting to wait in a long line at the pharmacy to promise you won’t make meth. What’s one more thing at this point?

  8. Falconfire says:

    Is it even legal for one company to arbitrarily refuse to sell a product to specific customers?

    Yes it is. Nothing new either. They do it with spray paint, box cutters, and recently with cold meds that had the mistaken potential to be turned into Meth by law enforcement officials who are clueless as to the actual production of Meth and how much you would need.

  9. Beerad says:

    @enm4r: “But either way, it’s not to stop us from buying medication when we’re sick, it’s to stop mass buying of the flagged ingredients that are trendy to abuse.”

    And this is determined by whose judgment? I don’t know that I want Skippy, the minimum-wage earning 16-year old cashier to say “I’m sorry, sir – you’ve been sick too much in the last two months so you can’t buy any more medicine.”

  10. Falconfire says:

    @Beerad: Even more important, does the government actually know how much you need to buy to turn it into something to “abuse”

    Much like pot, they are going after the small time idiots who are more likely to kill themselves and their buyers eliminating them from our genepool, rather than the big tim dealers who contribute 80% of the drugs in question to the market, and who have major manufacturing systems that use stolen or legal sources of the chemicals.

  11. Bye says:

    DayQuil was reformulated last year to exclude the tasty, pre-methy goodness of the product.

    That is why it no longer works.

    I love this new style of big business/government – my parents never had enough money to buy us a nanny when I was a kid.

  12. Three Word Chant says:

    This happened to me too. I went to a Duane Reade in NYC last night to get some cough medicine. I asked for extra strength and they said it was all behind the counter, which was locked because it was late at night. Then when I took regular strength DayQuil to the counter, they carded me.

    Apparently its dangerous to buy The Daytime, Non-Drowsy, Congested-Stuffy Head, Sore Throat, Cough, Aching, Fever So You Can Make Meth in Your Basement Medicine

  13. huadpe says:

    The reason for this is that some (not all) cough medicines can be used to make not just a mild high from taking too much, but in the production of methamphetamine. Not sure if the ID policies are from legislation, or just the threat of it, but meth is the reason.

  14. Lars says:

    I think we should stop selling condoms to anyone under 18 as well. Lord knows we don’t want anyone under 18 fornicating, robotripping, smoking, drinking, or generally being allowed to live in any way. Why stop there though? Kids can O.D. on pain medicine. Heck, maybe they get a little buzz from caffine. Let’s shut down the soda industry.

    Did anyone ever think that sometimes kids get colds too? And that sometimes busy parents can’t run every errand for a teen? And what about prescription meds? Is okay for kids to pick those up because they have a note from a doctor? Is it possible I will stop writing questions? Sorry.

  15. mikyrok says:

    @Lars: so robotripping = living?

  16. quantum-shaman says:

    I believe in meth addiction. I think meth eaters should consume as much of it as possible, as quickly as possible. Hopefully, before they reach breeding age. As a matter of fact, we should give them a 10% “frequent buyer” discount. Why interfere with the rest of us, who just need some rest for chrissake.

    How’s that for callous.

  17. amyjay says:

    I remember getting carded at 3 in the morning buying Nyquil. I didn’t worry about it because I think the cashier could take two seconds to notice that I looked like a person with a cold who couldn’t get to sleep (I really looked like hell).

    Plus, if it’s not the ‘Tussin, kids will find their parents prescription medicine or buy someone else’s. If a kid wants to get high, they’ll find a way.

  18. edro says:

    This has nothing to do with meth. Here in Nebraska a young kid got high on over-the-counter cough suppressant and stabbed his friend to death. He was acquitted of the crime due to temporary insanity.


  19. Buran says:

    I bought some sinus pills a few months ago to combat the occasional annoying sinus headache that I get. Advil Cold and Sinus, the generic walgreens version. That stuff works — it knocks out those headaches quite well since it attacks the sinuses and not just the pain.

    But the Walgreens clerk made me feel like a criminal just buying MEDICINE. Yes, you got that right. MEDICINE. After making me go through all kinds of hoops just to get rid of intense pain, he then had me swipe my card through their card scanner to pay — a health care plan card that can only be used for health care stuff, and isn’t verified at purchase time — and then proceeded to tell me that I didn’t have to sign for the medicine!

    WTF. So you first send me through a million hoops so I have to prove something or other even though this is just ONE box of medicine, meant for MY use and not for anyone else, and then you do nothing to verify that I am using my own credit card, no request to show ID at that point, no request to sign the slip, no checking of the signature line on the back of the card.

    Good going, Walgreens. So you pretend to care that I won’t hurt myself — but you do nothing to make sure I can’t hurt other people.

    Last I checked, what I do to myself is my business and it’s the potential to harm OTHER people that needs to be watched.

    I sense corporate BS at work.

    Ahem. Sorry. I’ve been sitting on that rant for a while.

  20. phrygian says:


    it’s not to stop us from buying medication when we’re sick,

    Perhaps that’s true, but it has stopped me from buying medication when I’m sick. I stopped taking Claritin when they put it behind locked counters and I couldn’t buy it when the pharmacy closed. Not that I only go shopping after-hours, but even when the pharmacy is open, the ones around here refuse to sell more than 1 12-count package a day per person. And to get that, I have to produce my driver’s license and they log all my ID info for their records. All for a package of allergy meds that won’t last a week if my husband’s allergies act up too. Now, when I’m stuffy/sneezy/watery-eyed/sick, I just suffer through it with hot tea and naps.

    The problem with locking up every product with the potential to be abused is that there’s always another product (heretofore considered innocuous) that some tweaker or bored teenager will figure out how to exploit.

  21. tcp100 says:

    I dont think you guys are getting it.

    Stop and Shop and Walgreens, etc, personally probably don’t care one iota who buys what, and would love to sell some tasty cough medicine to anybody.

    All it takes, however, is one parent with a stupid kid to sue the crap out of the store, and game over.

    Like it or not, until you’re 18, other people can be sadly held responsible for your dumb actions. This is simply a case of CYA in today’s litigous society.

    If you want to blame anybody, blame the people that’ll sue a store at the drop of a hat — but this isn’t some evil corporate conspiracy against coughing teens.

  22. esquilax says:

    Dextromethorphan is in a class of drugs called dissociatives, which also includes ketamine and PCP. basically, the way it works is by telling the part of your brain that makes you cough not to listen to the sensory input from your throat telling it to cough. But when you take a lot of it, it’s more like your mind gets shuttered off from *all* sensory input, and the brain likes to make up stuff on its own (hallucinations) when that happens.

    Of course, you stand a chance of your brain forgetting to tell your heart to beat or lungs to breathe, too. That’s why it’s dangerous.

  23. getjustin says:

    If this is such a big deal, lets fight the disease instead of the symptoms. Lets get to the root of why kids are turning to cheap highs to begin with. You’ll then realize that this problem is deeply rooted and isn’t going away anytime soon. Kids are nothing if not inventive. Ban this, they get high off that. If you want to get baked on a Sharpie or some paint thinner, go for it; it’s your head.

  24. Onpoint76 says:

    I can’t believe this is now just happening. I remember about 13 years ago when all of my friends would “Robo”. I think everyone knows about the effects of the DM. I think showing ID to buy it is not such a bad thing.

  25. pinkbunnyslippers says:

    So what this article basically tells me is that Stop and Shop only thinks people under the age of 18 abuse cough medicine and get high from it. Right?

    If I had a 17 yr old daughter that OD’ed on Robitussin that she purchased, and I was “litigious”, I’d sue. And if I had a 19 yr old daughter who OD’ed on Robitussing that she purchased, while being “above the legal cough-medicine buying age”, and I was a sue-ing kinda gal, guess what? I’d still sue!

    Anything in society that has an age limit restriction on its purchase is because it’s not good for you in some way shape or form. Cigarettes and alcohol aren’t good for you (for the most part), but that has little to do with age…it’ll be bad for you whether you’re 18 or 88.

    So this age restriction (and all others) is aimed at preventing people who don’t have the proper reasoning skills formed quite yet from purchasing a product that may do them harm. Well I hate to break it to Stop and Shop, but I’m sure a lot of 20-somethings don’t have reasoning skills either!

    People who want to get high are going to find a way to do it. Putting restrictions on products only angers the people who need it for earnest reasons. It doesn’t PREVENT anyone from buying it. And it doesn’t PREVENT anyone from suing over accidental deaths either.

    I give it about a month before I go into my local Target and I’ve got a 14 yr old standing outside asking me to go in and buy him some Tussin.

  26. mac-phisto says:

    well, if you’ve noticed that your favorite cough/allergy/sinus medicine has come off the floor, it’s because of this:

    i don’t think this applies to robitussin, nyquil, etc. as they would have to be pulled off the floor as of april 2006. this is probably more of a proactive approach by stop & shop to combat the growing threat of cough syrup abuse by minors. many state & local gov’ts have expressed their interest in enacting laws that prohibit the sale of cough syrup to minors, most recently suffolk county:,…

    it’s in a company’s best interest to have consistency in enforcement rather than leave compliance in the hands of local managers that may or may not keep abreast of legislation.

  27. Jasmo says:

    … this shitstuff doesn’t work anyway – why the fuss? Drink some tea with lemon and a big slug of bourbon. Cheaper, works better, and you won’t be ingesting all sorts of petro-chemicals and shit.

  28. This, naturally, sends the message that Dextromethorphan is a more appropriate drug to abuse at age 18 than alcohol.

    Alcohol will kill you too if you drink enough of it.

    If you want to blame anybody, blame the people that’ll sue a store at the drop of a hat…

    @tcp100: Don’t forget the judges for not throwing these stupid cases out in the first place.

  29. juniper says:

    … because clearly, no one above age 18 abuses cough syrup. It’s just that once you’re 18, no one cares anymore.

  30. zolielo says:

    @Falconfire: Also for combinations of good that could be made into contraband or weapons. From what I have see the firm will just ring a person out by separating the goods into two or more purchases. lol

  31. AvatarZ says:

    This weekend I need to show ID to get Claritan D in NYC. They also had a 18+ policy. Kids can’t even get Advil these days. Better watch out or they’ll OD on Kool-Aid.

  32. rmz says:

    I’m suddenly reminded of Lewis Black and his frequent tirades about NyQuil, his favorite recreational drug.

  33. enm4r says:


    I haven’t experienced this level of control. When I realized I had to go behind the counter (the only pharmacies I have around me are 24 hour anyway, I guess one of the perks of being in a major city) I asked to buy like 5-6 boxes. He had no problem doing so. I didn’t really have a problem with it, since it didn’t prevent me from buying anything but it seems like that’s not the majority of cases. I don’t see why any normal cashier can’t check you out and follow the ID protocols after the RX hours have closed…

    But what’s the threshold anyway? I bought 5 boxes at once, if I went to buy 5 a week later am I making meth in my apt? Or maybe I’m buying for 5 sick roommates…I was doing neither, but I’m just curious to see what has ever come from the ID taking and logging, good and bad, where are some stats?

  34. homersays says:

    I work in a rehab as a substance abuse counselor and a lot of the adolescents I deal with abuse the hell out of this.

    Remember, stuff like this is very easy for a 13 year old to get and drink enough to ‘robo-trip’. Then they drink whatever alcohol they can get to chase it and you have problems, especially when they are doing this in school.

  35. wesrubix says:

    the worst part about this, is that the DXM is in only the expectorant kind of tussins.

    That’s right. EXPECTORANT. So they can expect to blehhhhhhhhh.

    And I saw it happen in my high school. At least it was outside. Gross.

    They won’t die. They’ll just puke. A lot. They might need hydration. Too bad. Darwin needs some points.

  36. greverg says:

    There’s some confusion here. Cough syrup can be dangerous in excess but its primarily because of the pseudoephedrine (meth precursor). The dextromethorphan in cough syrup causes causes the trip. The trick was always to get the maximum strength generics which lacked psuedoephedrine or guafenesin (expectorant) and had a less nasty flavor. Lots of punch for little money but not really much fun because of the dissociative effects.

  37. TVarmy says:

    This actually got me in to trouble once when I was 17. My mom was coming down with something, and I was driving her home from an event we went to along with my (now-ex) girlfriend. Anyway, my mom asked me to stop at CVS and buy her a tube of Advils (She didn’t want to get up because of her headache). At the store, I had to fill out a series of paperwork and then at the last minute, I was told I had to be 18. So, I had my mom waiting in the car, and she was angry about having to wait 15 minutes to get nothing. She yelled at me a lot, and made me look like an idiot in front of my girlfriend.

    Of course, that’s a very petty reason to be against this sort of thing. It has real consequences for my great aunt, though. She’s been addicted to smoking since she was a teenager (She’s 80, smoking was like global warming back then) and now has a persistent coughing and sinus condition. The only thing that gives her relief is the “real” version of Sudafed, which the new Patriot Act limits her ability to buy. She has to take the drug constantly, and the pharmacy won’t let her buy as much as she needs because the law assumes she would make a meth lab or something. I’m not saying we should have no anti-drug laws, but we should at least have a system so that people who actually do need that much medicine can get it. A standing prescription or medical card of sorts comes to mind.

  38. @B: “Is it even legal for one company to arbitrarily refuse to sell a product to specific customers?”

    Sort-of. They can usually get away with it if it’s an age restriction. I recall local age restrictions on toilet paper (due to a TPing epidemic) when I was a teenager!

    Besides, all the cool kids are doing morning glory seeds anyway:

  39. TomK says:

    People who wrtie stories about robotussin cause a lot of unnecessary risks and take a lot of blame for the harm caused by people trying to get high on robotussin.

    It is important to note that OD effects from Robotussin do not come from taking too much dextromethorphan. Robotussin comes in many formulas that have other ingredients like acetametaphen and anti allergy medicines. In order to get effects from dextromethorphan, you need to take around 200 mg of it, an average dose has about 30. Dextromethorphan is a dissociative anesthetic. This means if you take too much of it, it’s just like going under for surgery. Recreational dosages of dextromethorphan are safe, because they work at below the level to have dissociative anesthetia.

    Dextromethorphan has a very unusual effects profile. Because the drug saturates so many different neuroreceptors, it has very different effects at 200 and 900 mg doses. Unlike drinking, where a double dose has a fairly linear effect, dextromethorphan evidences four distinct plateaus, each of which is marked by the drug interacting with a different neuroreceptor in the brain. It’s unlike any other drug used recreationally in this regard. A brain scientist could spend years studying this drug and comparing it’s effects at different levels to different neuroreceptors to learn tons of new stuff about the brain, because of it’s unusual combination of effects on consciousness and bizarre profile of neurochemical properties.

    Anyway, the reason people are harmed by dextromethorphan is that they read about it in newspapers or on websites like this one, and they figure it’s a cool way to get high. Then they buy a cough medicine (like the one in your picture) and drink the whole bottle. Well, they get enough dextromethorphan to cause recreational effects but they also get an overdose of acetametaphen or an overdose of the antihistimine in the multiple active ingredient formula.

    If we were really concerned about saving kids lives, then instead of showing pictures of unsafe sources of dxm with stories about how many kids are having fun getting high on it, we would point out in those same stories that most harms from dxm come from preperations with other active ingredients, and that would be experimenters should avoid the unsafe preperations. If you choose to experiment with dxm, know that 2/3rds of people who try it do not like it enough to even consider repeating the experience. Also, about 10% of the population is very suspectile to dxm and will have a very strong reaction to a low to medium dose. It’s not a fun way to get high if you can’t score weed or booze, and it’s a dangerous drug to use that way. But, if you decide to experiment, make sure you use a preperation of dxm that has no other active ingredients besides dextromophan hydrobromide. That way, you can avoid the overdose effects of the other active ingredients, and just get the relatively safe dxm.

    Most of the kids who have died from cough syrup use died because the media ignored the facts about other ingredients causing the od symptoms while sensationalizing the entire product line of cough medicines, even the dangerous ones.

    And the high from a mid or high dose DXM experience (between 2 and 3 bottles of extra strength formula) is very potent. A high dose DXM experience is very different from, and much much much more intense and wierder then, a comprable dose of LSD. Not something to mess around with for kicks on a saturday night.

  40. @Beerad: “And this is determined by whose judgment? I don’t know that I want Skippy, the minimum-wage earning 16-year old cashier to say “I’m sorry, sir – you’ve been sick too much in the last two months so you can’t buy any more medicine.””

    I am waiting for this lawsuit.

  41. DXM is a suppressant, NOT an expectorant. It is often, but certainly not always, packaged with Guaifenesin, which is indeed an expectorant. The main problem in the cough syrups with both DXM and Guaifenesin is that in order to achieve the desired psychoactive effects, (which absolutely is not a placebo), you have to take way too much Guaifenesin, which is what makes you sick. Taking the same dose of DXM without the Guaifenesin does not cause this same level of sickness. Of course, everyone reacts differently to chemicals and some people get nauseated when they take a single aspirin. It is easy enough to buy it without that ingredient, for example

    Of course this information is to clarify the misinformation in the comments and in no way condones illegal or unsafe drug use.

    Also, another variation of the expression is “Robofry.”

  42. whysteriastar says:

    All I have to say it that I am so glad you put the MC Chris link on here because without that, this story would only be half complete.

  43. robertseaton says:

    we already do this at Safeway…old news

  44. robertseaton says:

    @Falconfire: If we sell to you and you do something stupid we may have liability for having provided you with the product knowing that you may be of such an age to not be able to be liable.

  45. SOhp101 says:

    This is what you should do if a store asks to see ID but u are underage/don’t have one with you:

    1. take out some tissue and blow into it. show it to the cashier/pharmacist
    2. if they still refuse to sell, smear it on the counter
    3. say ‘good day’ to the cashier/pharmacist

  46. LAGirl says:

    @TVarmy: don’t want to worry you, but has your mom had her cough checked out? if not, try to get her to see a doctor. need to make sure it’s not anything serious. especially since she’s been smoking for so long.

    as for DXM…my boss has been going through a nasty custody fight with his ex. he has 2 sons, 7 and 4. the ex had a history of drug + alcohol abuse. he found out that the boys were getting to school late all the time, sent to school without shoes (!), not getting breakfast in the morning, homework not getting done. mom was a real mess. he discovered that she had stopped the booze + coke, and had moved on to cough medicine! a woman in her late 30’s/early 40’s Robotripping?? the good news is that he’s got custody of the kids now, and it will most likely become permanent.

  47. Jesus On A Pogo Stick says:

    @enm4r: I was carded once for buying white out. No, no not the liquid kind but the “dry”, roll on shit. The cashier lady laughed pretty hard at that one and asked how little kids are supposed to get high off of it. Some old hag behind me said that the kids could melt it down and inhale it or something… that was the best part.

    But seriously, let the drug users get their fix off meds and maybe they’ll die.. so then maybe, just maybe, I won’t be treated like a junkie because I’m buying allergy medicine because, oh hey guess what, I have fucking allergies not a meth addiction. No matter what the government or stores do, people are going to find ways to get high. Because we all know that the “War on Drugs” is totally working since there are no longer any pot heads/smack junkies/tweakers/crack smokers/robotrippers. Let it all be legal and maybe survival of the fittest will kick in.

  48. Flame says:

    I have to say that I believe that Meth is very serious. However, I do not agree with having parents prove they are over 18 to buy cold medicine. I had to buy my daughter some infant cold medicine when she was two and I was carded. Didn’t really care, showed ID, turned to leave. Behind me was a man who was buying 10 bottles for Draino, and a bunch of what looked like some kind of allergy cold medicine type stuff….He was well over 40, and they did not card him at all! So if we all know that they can use Draino to cut meth, and allergy cold medicine are also ingredients….what the heck did they think he was up to? Whereas, I, a 20 something year old have to show ID to buy one bottle of infant cold medicine…..I just don’t get it!

  49. yg17 says:

    I recently bought a 6 pack of beer at Wal-Mart, right after my 21st birthday, like anyone would. The cashier glanced at my ID and didn’t put up a fuss or anything. I didn’t have to take it out of my wallet, I just left it behind the little window thing. For all he knows, I could’ve been a minor, scanned in my ID, photoshopped the birthdate, printed it on a piece of paper and stuck that in there.

    A couple weeks later, I had a bitch of a cold and bought some cold medicine at the same Wally World. The cashier looked at my drivers license (out of my wallet) for nearly a whole minute, flipping it back and forth, looking for watermarks and making sure it wasn’t fake. Not to mention that I’m 21 and look like I’m in my mid 20s, I don’t know how the hell she could’ve thought I was under 18. Seems to me that their priorities are very, very wrong. And if I was a minor and had a fake ID, I sure as hell wouldn’t be buying some cold medicine.

    So kids, moral of the story: If you feel like crap and have a terrible cold, it would be easier for you to just buy a bunch of booze and drink until you don’t feel any pain than it would be to buy some actual medicine.

    And as far as robotripping goes….Robotussin is digusting, I can’t even take a normal dose of it because it tastes like absolute shit. I don’t know how anyone could drink a whole bottle of it without vomiting all over the place from the nasty taste it leaves behind. I’d deal with a bad cough before taking any medicine in liquid form.