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Dextromethorphan Addiction Facts and Statistics

by | Last updated Oct 2, 2020 at 3:35PM | Published on Oct 15, 2014 | Drug Addiction, Pseudoephedrine Addiction

Dextromethorphan Addiction Facts and Statistics

With its scientific name, dextromethorphan is a cough suppressant active ingredient found in most over-the-counter cold medicines. Because this active compound can cause a hallucinogenic high, teenagers are the ones abusing the drug the most. Let’s explore some Dextromethorphan addiction facts to learn how we can educate teenagers about the dangers of misusing such medications. 

What is Dextromethorphan?

Dextromethorphan (DXM) is the active ingredient of most OTC cold medications. Most of the time, these medicines include acetaminophen and pseudoephedrine to help with body aches and other pain. When people follow instructions, they are safe and effective, but they might have side effects. 

Other Names for Dextromethorphan

Like most addictive drugs, these often find their way to the streets and can be found under street names like CCC, DXM, Robo, Poor Man’s PCP, Skittles, and Triple C. However, unlike other drugs, most DXMs can be easily purchased at the grocery store, local pharmacy, and even online. 

Dextromethorphan Addiction Facts

5 Interesting Dextromethorphan Addiction Facts You Should Know

In recent years, dextromethorphan abuse continues to increase. Children and teenagers continue to misuse the drug for its psychoactive effects. Without federal regulations for DXM, people can easily purchase and abuse products containing the drug without problems. To understand this better, let’s look at some dextromethorphan addiction facts. 

1. DXM Abuse Is Known as “Robotripping”

The high hallucinogenic people get with DXM abuse produces confusion and a distorted sense of reality. People who robotrip often can develop psychological and behavioral problems. It all depends on how much DXM they consume. There are four stages, or plateaus, which can occur during a DXM high.

The first plateau consists of mild stimulation—the second consists of visual hallucinations. The third plateau is similar to the latter but more intense. The plateau consists of significant, out-of-body experiences. These plateaus vary based on how much DXM someone consumes.

2. The FDA Categorizes It as a Non-Addictive Drug

Since 1958, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved DXM as a non-addictive cough suppressant. The new medication would replace codeine, which had a high potential for abuse and addiction. However, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) says the drug can lead to addiction. To this day, hundreds of people attend rehab for a substance use disorder involving dextromethorphan. 

3. The Combination of Active Ingredients Can Be Deadly

The ingest of DXM alone won’t cause deadly side effects. However, severe illness or even death occurs when people mix the substance with other ones. Most of the time, active ingredients like acetaminophen, chlorpheniramine, pseudoephedrine, and phenylephrine can cause adverse effects when combined with DXM. 

4. DXM Withdrawal Symptoms Are Severe

High doses of these combinations can lead to liver failure, rapid heart rate, hyperthermia, tachycardia, coma, and respiratory depression, to name a few. When people abuse dextromethorphan for a long period of time, they can experience permanent psychological issues or toxic psychosis. 

5. Some Forms of Dextromethorphan Are More Dangerous

The average dose of DXM should be 10 to 20 milligrams every four to six hours. Those who abuse DXM take around 240 to 1,500 milligrams in a single dose. Beyond the traditional cough syrups, we find at the store. People can find it online as a capsule, pill, or powder. These other forms allow people to snort or ingest DXM.

Unkile the syrup, these other forms produce a more intense high without the need to consume large quantities. When someone becomes addicted, they can even inject dextromethorphan by extracting the liquid from gel capsules or also using cough syrups as intravenous drugs.

Dextromethorphan Abuse Statistics

Dextromethorphan Abuse Statistics

Surprisingly, something potentially lethal and with proven record to have moderate to high addiction risk remains on the shelves. Virtually anyone can get access to dextromethorphan, merely by walking to a store. When we see the DXM abuse statistics, it’s clear that talking more about its dangers is paramount.

  • About 3.2 percent of high school seniors reported misusing cough or cold medications in 2016.
  • Abuse of DXM was more common among 12th-grade students than abuse of sedatives or Ritalin.
  • People between the ages of 12 and 20 years old accounted for more than half of emergency room visits for non-medical use of dextromethorphan.
  • In 2006, 3.1 million Americans between 12 and 25 years old had ingested cough and cold medicine recreationally.
  • DXM can produce a high similar to that of PCP and certain other psychotropic drugs.
  • In 2010, cough medicine was the most abused drug by high school seniors, next to marijuana, and Vicodin.
  • Close to 10% of teenagers have abused cough medicines.
  • Dextromethorphan is present in over 120 OTC medications.

Dextromethorphan Addiction Treatment Options

DXM dependency can lead to many physical and psychological effects that can have long-term consequences. However, because of the severe consequences of withdrawal symptoms, having the right support system is critical to prevent deadly outcomes. 

Most people starting their DXM addiction treatment are recommended a detox program paired with a partial hospitalization program (PHP) that eases withdrawal symptoms and provides patients with a secure and supervised environment to begin their recovery. Many treatment facilities can help structure the right treatment plan. At Lighthouse Recovery Institute, our addiction recovery programs include:

  • Medical Detox: In this clinically supervised detox process at treatment centers, we ensure the patient’s safety and make the withdrawal phase as comfortable as possible by minimizing withdrawal symptoms and using medication-assisted treatment services to guarantee a complete detoxification process. 
  • Dual Diagnosis Treatment: Since many long-term Dilaudid addicts often struggle with mental illness, a dual diagnosis program can get them the help needed to treat both conditions simultaneously. 
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: Most of the time, these sorts of addictions develop due to compulsive behaviors that must be treated at the source, with CBT being one of the most popular evidence-based treatments to treat addiction. 
  • Intensive Outpatient Programs: When patients are looking to seek addiction treatment while maintaining daily obligations like work, school, or caregiving, IOPs are a more flexible option that still gives people access to the help they need. 
  • Long-term Recovery Programs: With long-term recovery assistance, patients can have the ongoing support they need to maintain long-lasting sobriety. Recovery programs are crucial to relapse prevention. 

Get Help Today

If you or someone you love is struggling with substance use disorders, ask for help immediately. Please, call the Lighthouse Recovery Institute today and speak with our addiction specialists to learn more about our comprehensive and personalized addiction treatment programs.

Our addiction center offers unique and personalized treatment plans because we believe no two addictions are alike. The journey towards recovery is a long one, but together and with your family and friends’ support, we’ll make it. 

Geraldine Orentas

Geraldine Orentas

Geraldine is Lighthouse Recovery Institute’s Digital Marketing Manager. She has a Bachelor’s in Journalism and experience in the digital media industry. Geraldine’s writing allows her to share valuable information about mental health, wellness, and drug addiction facts, hoping to shed light on the importance of therapy and ending the stigma.
Medical Disclaimer:

Lighthouse Recovery Institute aims to improve the quality of life for anyone struggling with substance use or mental health disorder. We provide fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options, and their outcomes. The material we publish is researched, cited, edited, and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide in our posts is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. It should never be used in place of the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider.

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