Dextromethorphan is an ingredient found in many cough medicines and most people have one of these products in their homes. Did you know that DXM causes a dangerous high, but in New Jersey it is currently legal for children to buy products with the ingredient?

The abuse of over the counter cough medicines, many containing dextromethorphan, has increased among youths. (Photo Illustration by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

There is a move to change the law to address a growing problem.

"This ingredient is in probably 100 over-the-counter cough remedies and it's being abused by children in middle school because it's cheap and it's legal so they can going into a drug store and buy it," said Assemblyman Paul Moriarty (D-Turnersville). "They drink this down and they get the same high as if you are perhaps taking an acid trip."

DXM abuse is becoming increasingly worrisome for law enforcement, parents and health care officials across the country and it's a scary thought, but adolescents are the primary abusers and many parents simply don't know about its potential abuse the assemblyman said. He explained that he was clued into the problem by a concerned constituent.

"A mom came in and told me about her daughter who was abusing this and she had found out about it and she was very distressed and very alarmed and wanted something done about it," he said.

A bill (A-622) co-sponsored by Moriarty would make it illegal for minors to purchase products containing DXM. The measure would also require the NJ Department of Health to include a comprehensive list of products that contain DXM as an active ingredient on its website.

"My bill would prohibit anyone under 18 from going into a drug store and buying any of the products that contain this ingredient," Moriarty said. "You'd have to show ID."

The legislation was unanimously approved in both the Assembly and the Senate. It is currently sitting on Gov. Chris Christie's desk awaiting action.

"This legislation is not only a major step toward preventing young people from purchasing dangerous over-the-counter drugs but also a declaration to them that these products can be just as hazardous as the alcohol and cigarettes they're also barred from buying," said bill co-sponsor Assemblyman Pat Diegnan (South Plainfield) in an emailed statement.