A disturbing trend has continued over the past few decades in the intentional abuse of over-the-counter cough medications containing dextromethorphan (DXM). To make matters worse, the trend is most common amongst the adolescent youth.
Taking large amounts of dextromethorphan causes the user to experience an intense high that includes hallucinations. The repeated abuse of DXM has been shown to cause substance dependence syndrome, sometimes requiring treatment for addiction. Here we discuss DXM-containing cough syrup abuse.
How is DXM abused?
Dextromethorphan is typically abused by taking over the counter cough medicines that contain it. Cough syrups, such as Nyquil, Robitussin, Delsym, Theraflu, and Dimetapp DM, are often used as sources of dextromethorphan.
Oral tablets, such as Coricidin or cough drops, are also popular choices. In both cases, extremely large doses of the pills or syrup are taken orally. The doses taken are usually drastically more than the recommended amount.
What are the effects of DXM?
Dextromethorphan is abused for the effects it causes in high doses. These include euphoria, disorientation, both visual and auditory hallucinations, and an increased awareness of one’s surroundings.
With increasing doses or when mixed with other drugs such as alcohol, dextromethorphan’s disorienting and hallucinatory effects go up drastically. These effects are also coupled with a large number of unwanted side effects, such as trouble with speech, nausea, vomiting, sweating, and extreme dizziness.
Does DXM/cough syrup addiction exist?
Dextromethorphan, while not physically addictive, has been shown to cause physiological addiction in chronic users. One study found that of those studied who repeatedly used dextromethorphan to get high, 46.5% were physiologically dependent on the substance. Repeated dextromethorphan abuse is often an indication that one may have a substance abuse problem.
This article is intended for those considering a new way of life, free of the pain of drug and alcohol addiction. For more information on recovery and anyone seeking help with addiction and substance abuse problems, please call True Recovery at (844) 744-8783 or visit us online.