Cough Medicine Abuse: Dextromethorphan

Robitussin DM is the brand name cough syrup that combines dextromethorphan and guaifenesin. Dextromethorphan is a cough suppressant that affects the signals in the brain that trigger the cough reflex, while guaifenesin acts as an expectorant. As a result, Robitussin DM is used to treat a cough, but is not effective in treating a cough that is caused by smoking, asthma or emphysema. Robitussin DM is available as an over-the-counter cold medication. On the street, its use is known as Robo-tripping or skittling.

Brand name medications that offer are similar in makeup to Robitussin DM include Allfen DM, Altarussin DM, Aquatab DM, Benylin Expectorant, Drituss DM, Extuss LA, Fenesin DM IR, Glycotuss-DM, Guaifen DM, Mucinex Children’s Cough, Mucinex DM, MucusRelief DM, Naldecon DX Liquigel, Relacon LAX, Respa-DM, Robitussin Cough & Congestion, Tussi-Bid, Tussi-Organidin DM NR and Vicks 44E.

Abuses of Robitussin DM

Robitussin DM actually has a high potential for abuse simply due to the ease of acquisition and its low cost. In addition, the cough syrup is easy to administer, providing the desired effect very quickly. Teenagers and young adults present the greatest concern for abuse. In addition, the Internet is increasingly home to extensive “how to” abuse information on a number of different websites.

Those individuals who are abusing Robitussin DM have reported a heightened sense of perceptual awareness, altered time perception and visual hallucinations. Those who are abusing the cough syrup tend to display hyper-excitability, lethargy, ataxia, slurred speech, sweating, hypertension, and/or nystagmus. While abuse of Robitussin DM is not necessarily considered to be common, the dextromethorphan drug is increasingly being abused in tablets and gel capsules.

Effects of Robitussin DM

When taken in excessive amounts – or even at the prescribed amount in some individuals – Robitussin DM can produce feelings of drowsiness and relaxation. Many users have liken this feeling to the effects marijuana has on the body. An individual will feel their body begin to slow and feel more at ease while the brain acts at a reduced capacity. When Robitussin DM is taken as more than the prescribed amount, it becomes the equivalent of a hallucinogenic drug such as LSD.

Side effects of this drug can occur as allergic reactions: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat. More serious side effects include severe dizziness, anxiety, restless feeling, or nervousness; confusion, hallucinations; or slow, shallow breathing.

Withdrawal of Robitussin DM

While it may be difficult to believe considering the taste, some individuals do take to consuming too much Robitussin DM and can develop and addiction. Much like that of narcotic drugs or prescription medications, if a person develops a dependence on Robitussin DM, problems arise in cessation. If the individual stops taking the cough syrup abruptly, he or she can experience withdrawal symptoms.

Any and all of the following symptoms can occur in the Robitussin DM withdrawal stage:

• Restlessness

• Muscle aches

• Bone aches

• Insomnia

• Diarrhea

• Vomiting

• Cold flashes

Treatment of Robitussin DM

No matter what the reasons for starting to take Robitussin DM, an individual can develop a dependence and an addiction if the drug is taken too long or in too high of doses. The withdrawal process has the ability to be life-threatening if not properly monitored. As a result, it is important that those with an addiction seek the help they need to stop taking the drug and to learn how to function normally without it.

Detoxification is required to cleanse the body of this drug and must be done under the care of a board-certified physician and a board-certified psychiatrist. A quality treatment center will recommend a comfortable detox using withdrawal medications specific to the abuse of Robitussin DM or the dextromethorphan drug. A full physical on a person is required to determine the right medications for comfortable detox. This method helps to correct the chemical imbalances and should be combined with psychological evaluations and other medical care.