DXM Abuse

Dextromethorphan is found in more than 100 different OTC medicines today.

DXM (dextromethorphan) is the most commonly used cough suppressant drug in the United States. Found in over 100 different over-the-counter cold and flu medicines, DXM has been approved for use by the FDA since the 1950s.

Although the drug serves a valuable purpose within the medical community, abuse of DXM in recent years has put the OTC drug on the radar as a serious substance abuse threat.

Today, approximately 1 in 25 teens report having abused cough medicine to get high, and only about half of teens report believing that abusing DXM is unsafe. It is speculated that the drug’s popularity may be due to its availability, affordable cost and the common misconception of its “safety” due to its primary functionality as a cough/cold medicine.

Dextromethorphan may also be called by a number of different street names, including C-C-C, Skittles, DXM, Dex, Robo, Red Devils and Tussin. When one uses DXM, it is often called “robo-tripping,” “skittling” or “dexing.”

Risks of of DXM Abuse

Although DXM may be perceived by adults and young people alike as a less dangerous substance abuse alternative than conventional street drugs, the facts on the issue indicate opposite. Those who abuse DXM-containing cough or cold medicines to get high may take up to 25 times the recommended dosage. The resultant side effects and potential adverse reactions of such abuse can be serious and even deadly.

Some of the effects of excessive DXM use include:

  • Extreme delusions or hallucinations
  • Memory loss
  • Disorientation or confusion
  • Impaired vision
  • Dizzy spells
  • Intense sleepiness
  • Severe stomach pains and/or nausea or vomiting
  • Slurred speech
  • Loss of bodily coordination
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Seizures
  • Coma
  • Death

The combination of DXM with other drugs or alcohol elevates one’s risk of serious adverse reactions and/or heart attack, stroke or death.

Identifying DXM in Cough/Cold Medicine

There are more than 100 different over-the-counter product varieties containing DXM available today. Although these products come in different shapes and forms, ranging from pills to syrups or lozenges, each product will be clearly marked if it contains DXM.

Some products which are known to contain dextromethorphan are:

  • Delsym™
  • Dimetapp™
  • Mucinex DM™
  • Robitussin™
  • Theraflu™
  • Tylenol Cough & Cold™
  • Vicks DayQuil™/NyQuil™

For a full and complete list of DXM-containing OTC medicines, please visit StopMedicineAbuse.org.

Protect Your Family From DXM Abuse 

If you have medicines in your home containing DXM, keep them locked away or stored safely out of reach of both children and teens. Be sure to follow doctor and/or product instructions closely to avoid adverse reactions, and talk to the youth in your family early and often about the dangerous effects of DXM abuse.

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