A substance being used by an alarming number of teenagers to get high is completely legal and does not even require a prescription.
In fact, it’s within easy reach in the medicine cabinets of most homes. This highly addictive substance is Dextromethorphan, or DXM, an active ingredient found in dozens of brands of cough suppressant medicine. Parents may warn their children about the dangers of alcohol and illegal drugs, but despite warning labels on cough medicines most are unaware of the dangers of the recreational use of DXM.
Ben from A&E’s Intervention (search for season 4 episode 55) provided many of us with a disturbing first hand look at DXM abuse.
What is Robotripping?
Being under the influence of this highly addictive substance is called “robotripping” (the term is derived from the Robitussin cough medicine brand). It is also referred to as “Tussin” and “Triple C” (based on the “CCC” label printed on gel caps of the Coricidin brand). While DMX has no side effects when taken at recommended dosage levels, it is a powerful psychedelic drug when taken in doses of more than 900 milligrams. While robotripping, teens experience euphoria, dissociation and both visual and auditory hallucinations.
Drug abuse experts estimate that more than 3 million teenagers have use DXM to get high. Studies show that more than half the young people in rehabilitation therapy have used DXM at some point in their life. Because cough medicine is legal and is cheaper and easier to obtain than illegal drugs, many teens assume that’s not as dangerous. They couldn’t be more wrong.
Risks of DXM Abuse
DXM abuse poses these risks:
• Sweating and fever
• Increased and irregular heart rate and blood pressure
• Impaired mental functions and memory loss
• Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
• Slurred speech and impaired vision
• Rapid eye movements
• Hallucinations and dissociative effects
• Seizures, coma and death
Role of the Internet in Spreading Abuse
Teens who want to know more about robotripping will find a wealth of information available online. Unfortunately, not all of it warns about the dangers of DXM. YouTube videos show kids under the influence of DXM, with the sound of their friends laughing at their disorientation and confusion in the background. There are also websites with information about the best dosage levels for hallucination, as well as websites with recipes for mixing DXM cocktails.
One Teen’s Story
CBS News recently interviewed an 18-year-old named Amanda who became addicted to DXM at the age of 15. Her life slid out of control when she began to use DXM on a daily basis. Like many other teens who abuse DXM, she soon moved on to stronger drugs to satisfy her cravings to be high. In Amanda’s case, the stronger drug of choice was heroin. Only when she had dropped out of high school and become estranged from family and friends did she seek help. After checking herself into a drug rehabilitation facility, she was able finish high school and is now drug free. Other teens are not so lucky.