Dear Ms. Vicki,
I started using “Triple C” to get me through basic training. It was something anyone can use and it’s easy to get. It’s cough medicine. Many people in my platoon are still using it every day. Now I can’t stop using it to get high and it’s causing me a lot of problems. When I read your articles, you always encourage us to get help, but how do I know I won’t get put out of the Army if I admit that I have a problem?
Played Out By Triple C
Dear Played Out,
"Triple C" is the term used for a safe, over-the-counter cough and cold medication that contains Dextromethorphan (DXM). However, when the medication is taken in dramatically high doses, it can be very harmful. It can cause serious side effects, mental and physical damage, and even death.
Commanders and parents must take notice of the "Triple C effect" because of the availability of the medication and because any teenager can readily purchase it. DXM can curb the central nervous system. In other words, your brain stops telling your lungs when to breathe. DXM also causes serious hallucinations.
There are three terms that will be helpful for every Commander or parent to know:
I definitely encourage our servicemembers to seek professional help for any substance abuse problem. The servicemember in the letter above may think he is avoiding problems by not disclosing that he is abusing cough medicine to get high. However, he is definitely headed for problems that will affect his health and his military career if he does not seek help. It is like a ticking time bomb that will surely explode at any time.
There are programs available on every base that will help you address the "Triple C Effect." Servicemembers can speak to a professional off the record and inquire about services like prevention and education services and treatment, too. However, a thorough assessment will need to be done to determine the level of intervention that is necessary. Servicemembers should also remember that all illegal substance use or wrongful -- unlawful drug abuse is punishable by UCMJ. I urge you to take action on this and get the help you need.
Ms. Vicki is a native of Dallas, is married to an active-duty Soldier and has three sons. She has a Master's of Science in Social Work from the University of Louisville, is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and currently works as a therapist with military servicemembers and their families. She provides services for a wide array of concerns such as combat stress, PTSD, couples and marital problems, depression, grief and loss, stress and coping.
Ms. Vicki also writes an advice column "Dear Ms. Vicki" that appears in the Washington Times, the Fort Campbell Courier and the Heidelberg Herald Post. Ms. Vicki also hosts an internet radio show and blogs on her community site with the Washington Times. If you want to ask Ms. Vicki for advice about your military life, please email her at AskMsVicki@military-inc.com.
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