Cough Syrup

Consumer Healthcare Products Association – OTC Safety Information

Chemical Name: Dextromethorphan

Names: DXM, Robo, tussin, dex, triple C’s, skittles, lean

Usage: swallowed

A cough-suppressing ingredient in a variety of over-the-counter cold and cough medications. Also, dextromethorphan can be purchased in a powder form, often over the internet.

Immediate Effects:
The effects of dextromethorphan abuse vary with the amount taken. Common DXM effects can include confusion, dizziness, double or blurred vision, slurred speech, impaired physical coordination, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, rapid heart beat, drowsiness, numbness of fingers and toes, and disorientation. DXM produces a highly psychedelic effect.

Long-term Effects:
The abuse of cough medications including DXM can contain other ingredients, such as acetaminophen, which can be very dangerous when taken in large quantities. Psychological dependence can occur as a result of recreational use, but DXM does not produce physical addiction.

Did You Know?

  • The effects vary with dose, and dextromethorphan users describe a set of distinct dose-dependent “plateaus” ranging from a mild stimulant effect with distorted visual perceptions at low (approximately 2-ounce) doses to a sense of complete dissociation from one’s body at doses of 10 ounces or more. The effects typically last for 6 hours. Over-the-counter medications that contain dextromethorphan often contain antihistamine and decongestant ingredients as well, and high doses of these mixtures can seriously increase risks of dextromethorphan abuse.
  • Negative experiences related to DXM are usually a result of the other active ingredients such as gauifenesin or acetaminophen, which are in the cough syrup.
  • Some find the effects of DXM to be pleasurable but many find the effects to produce dysophonia, panic, or dread.