Dextromethorphan (DXM) is an over the counter antitussive that is widely used in various cough syrups. It is a non-opioid agent that work primarily to suppress or prevent excessive coughing. Its uses also extend to temporary relief of sinus congestion, allergies and the accompanying symptoms of sneezing, runny nose and itchy throat.As an expectorant, it helps to expel mucus from the respiratory tract. Over the counter products containing Dextromethorphan are currently available without a prescription.
There are over 100 products being sold in the United States today that contains DXM. These products are available for use by children and adults. Some of the more popular brand names include:
- Benylin DM Pediatric,
- Buckleys Mixture,
- DayQuil Cough,
- Delsym 12 Hour Cough Relief,
- Elixsure Cough,
- Robafen Cough Liquidgels,
- Robitussin CoughGels,
- Scot-Tussin Diabetic,
- Silphen DM,
- Joseph Cough Suppressant,
- Sucrets DM Cough,
- Theraflu Thin Strips Cough,
- Triaminic Long Acting Cough
- Vicks DayQuil Cough
- Vicks Formula 44 Custom Care Dry Cough
- Zicam Cough MAX
According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) DXM is also available on internet sites in powder, capsule and tablet form.
Drug Classification and FDA Concerns
Dextromethorphan is a legal substance that has been approved by the FDA. This substance is not considered dangerous unless it is abused. Abuse of the drug occurs when users exceed the dosages that are recommended for therapeutic purposes. Based on this, DXM is not classified as a controlled substance by the FDA. However, its potential for causing harm to a fetus has not been fully tested and therefore cannot be entirely ruled out. Pregnant women are cautioned against using products containing DXM in order to protect their unborn babies.
Recently the FDA announced that the agency intends to remove certain unapproved medications used for the relief of cough, cold, and allergy symptoms from the U.S. market. Some medicines that contain Dextromethorphan are under consideration for withdrawal. Included on that list are drugs with the following trade names such as Alka-Seltzer plus Cold & Cough tablets containing 10 mg Dextromethorphan, Amerituss AD Liquid with 15 mg dextromethorphan, Father John’s Medicine Plus liquid with 1.55 mg dextromethorphan and Norel DM liquid with 15 mg dextromethorphan.
Methods of Use
Users who adhere to the suggested method of use recommended by the manufacturers of DXM typically do not experience any adverse effects. Guidelines usually advise the specific amount to be ingested every four to six hours depending on the product. Sadly, recreational users or those using these products for illicit reason ignore these recommendations and can ingest up to 240 to 1500 mg in a single dose. Records show that some users have ingested as much as four bottles of cough syrup containing DXM in one day. These high volumes produce any number of negative side effects.
Other methods of use other than traditional cough syrup include taking DXM tablets or snorting it in its powdered form. Some users have been known to follow instructions outlined on the internet that demonstrate how to extract Dextromethorphan from syrups so that it can be injected into the body.
Abuse of Dextromethorphan
Emergency room data indicate that DXM abuse is on the rise. As a dissociative anesthetic, it is often compared to PCP (Phencyclidine) which is a hallucinogen. This comparison is made because at high doses, DXM can also produce powerful psychedelic effects. In addition, people who abuse this drug are at risk for toxic psychosis. This is a mental condition in which the patient become confused and disoriented. Chronic use has also been shown to result in physical dependency and high tolerance levels. When the drug is halted, DXM abusers typically experience various symptoms of withdrawal which may include rapid heart rate, anxiety and excessive cravings, to name a few.
According to DEA reports, abuse of Dextromethorphan may be attributed to the ease of accessibility. Most products containing this substance can be acquired without a prescription and from multiple sources such as drug stores, supermarkets and internet outlets. The primary reason for DXM abuse, most users say, is for the euphoria that the drug provides. At certain doses it can produce heightened awareness, altered time perception, and visual hallucinations. Interactions between DXM and other substances of abuse such as alcohol, narcotic prescription medication or some designer drugs like Ecstasy can also be life threatening.
The following effects caused by abusing DXM can range from mild to severe and last up to six hours.
- Panic attack and seizures
- Increased body temperature or hot flashes
- Sweating and dehydration
- Nausea and vomiting
- Giddiness and lack of coordination
- Impaired mental functions
- Elevated blood pressure
This drug is also referred to by various street names such as Poor Man’s Ecstasy, Red Devil, Robo, Gel, Groove, Mega-Perls, Red Devils, Rome, Sky and Velvet among others.
Treatment for Dextromethorphan Abuse
In severe cases Dextromethorphan addiction treatment may necessitate the detox process because excessive cravings which often occur during withdrawal can lead to a relapse. A medical detoxification then becomes part of the rehabilitation process that also include cognitive-behavioral therapy. Therapy has been proven effective in helping addicts and their families to understand the underlying causes of the addiction and to resolve those issues in order to enjoy long term sobriety.
If you or someone you love is abusing DXM in any form seek help today. Call For information about treatment today at 877-855-3470.