Starting next week, if you are headed to Stop & Shop to get some relief from a cough, you had better have more than a few bucks in your pocket. You may also need ID.

Spurred by concerns about the abuse of a drug in many cough suppressants and cold medicines, the grocery chain yesterday announced it will require young people to produce identification before buying the products.

The drug, called DXM, or dextromethorphan, is a key component in cough medications like Robitussin DM, but can produce hallucinatory effects if taken in large doses.

Anyone under 18 will not be sold the products. It is strictly the clerk's call on whether you will be carded. It is not a state law.

Studies show teens are increasingly using cough syrup and other medications containing DXM to get high or go "robo-tripping."

In a 2005 survey, the Partnership for a Drug-Free America found 10 percent of teens admitted to using cough syrup to get high - more than said they used Ecstacy, crack or cocaine.

"It's recognized by drugstores as a growing trend," said Robert Keane, a spokesman for Stop & Shop, explaining the company's decision to impose age restrictions. "We wanted to stem the trend as much as we can."

Although products containing DXM will remain on shelves, starting Sunday, Keane said, scanning the items will produce a prompt telling cashiers to ask for identification before completing the sale.

The Quincy-based chain is not the only one that has moved to restrict the sale of medications containing DXM.

"We've been restricting access on certain DXM products since about 2004," said Mike DeAngelis, a spokesman for Rhode Island-based CVS. "We continue to monitor that. It's something we're always looking at."

Target stores also use a similar age-restriction system, company officials said.

Philippe Bouvier, owner of Bouvier Pharmacy in Marlborough, has the simplest system of all - knowing his customers inside and out.

"It's a little different in an independent pharmacy," he said. "All our cough and cold products are right in front of us, so we have pretty good control just by watching.

"If we saw the same person coming in six times for Robitussin, it makes you wonder."

Although he was not familiar with the idea of intentional abuse of DXM products, Bouvier said their potential to be misused by teens warrants a closer look.

"I'm not even aware of the fact that kids are using it to get high," he said. "(But) if it has potential for abuse, then, certainly, we'd look at it. But I haven't been made aware of any of that.

"I can tell you we haven't had any increase in sales," he said. "That would be another indicator, if we start ordering dozens of these things. That would be another indicator to say, 'Hey, let's look at this.' "

Peter Reuell can be reached at 508-626-4428, or at