Many people use it when they can’t stop coughing or want to sleep when they have a bad cold or allergies. But is dextromethorphan addictive? As a network of nationwide drug and alcohol treatment centers, we know that dextromethorphan abuse is a growing concern, especially among teens and young adults. We’re sharing more information about dextromethorphan and its many dangers.
Dextromethorphan is an active ingredient in over-the-counter cough syrups and medications that acts as a cough-suppressant. It’s used to control coughing caused by allergies or illnesses like colds, the flu, bronchitis, and more. DXM is produced from a morphine derivative but is not considered an opioid because it works differently than common opioids like Vicodin, heroin, and OxyContin. Dextromethorphan works by inhibiting a neurotransmitter called N-methyl-D-aspartate (NDMA), which plays a role in our cough reflex. As an antagonist for NDMA, dextromethorphan effectively suppresses coughing. It’s sold in various forms including lozenges, syrups, pills, chewable tablets, and dissolvable strips. Some common medications that contain dextromethorphan include Robitussin, NyQuil, and Vicks. Because it’s often mixed with other substances like codeine to create drinks called lean or purple drank, it also has street names like red devil, skittles, and Robo. The use of DXM alongside other illicit and prescription drugs has been mentioned in several popular songs and has become common among teens and young adults.
Yes, you can get high on dextromethorphan. Taking a high dose of DXM can mimic the effects of illicit drugs like PCP and ketamine. Dextromethorphan side effects often fluctuate between intoxication and plateaus.
A dextromethorphan high can vary in duration and severity depending on the dose taken.
Dextromethorphan use, also known as robotripping, can produce a variety of physical side effects that can vary depending on the dose. Generally, the side effects of DXM include:
The effects of dextromethorphan may begin anywhere between half an hour to an hour after the person’s last dose and usually peak between two and four hours. Many people aren’t aware that dextromethorphan addiction is very real and abusing DXM can cause a variety of health issues in addition to dependence. At Banyan Treatment Centers, we offer a medical detox that weans patients off of the drugs or alcohol in their system, allowing their bodies to recover from the immediate physical effects of substance abuse.
Dextromethorphan abuse is a dangerous habit that can lead to addiction, among a long list of other health problems. If you or someone you know is struggling with a drug or alcohol problem, we can help. We treat a variety of substance abuse disorders and each of our treatments incorporates unique programs and therapies to increase our patients’ chances of achieving long-lasting sobriety.