What is The DXM Drug (Dextromethorphan)?

Medically Reviewed By: Diana Vo, LMFT

May 23, 2023

Table of Contents

DXM drugs contain dextromethorphan, a cough suppressant found in more than 100 OTC cold medications. DXM has emerged as a drug of abuse in recent years. Consuming excessive amounts of DXM can trigger a life-threatening overdose. Anecdotal reports suggest that non-medical use of DXM can induce dangerous experiences similar to those caused by PCP or ketamine, and require medical detox and intervention. 

This guide addresses the following issues:

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  • Dextromethorphan: what is it?
  • What are the most common dextromethorphan effects?
  • What dangers are associated with drugs with DXM?
  • Robotripping: what is it?
  • What is DXM addiction and how can you connect with treatment?

What is DXM?

DXM (dextromethorphan) is an active ingredient commonly found in various over-the-counter cold and cough medications. These medications are available in the form of liquid, tablets, or gel caps. DXM is an NMDA receptor antagonist and has sedative and dissociative properties like ketamine and PCP.

Dextromethorphan medicine is available in many forms, including:

  • Cough syrup with DXM
  • Cold medicine with DXM
  • Combination products containing acetaminophen, chlorpheniramine, pseudoephedrine, or guaifenesin

When DXM is taken in doses higher than the recommended amount, it can produce hallucinations, euphoria, and other altered states of consciousness. Those who misuse DXM often describe experiencing different plateaus that range from mild distortions of color and sound to vivid visual hallucinations, sensations of being detached from the body, and loss of motor control.

There are many street names for DXM, including:

  • Dex
  • Robo
  • Triple C
  • Skittles
  • Tussin
a man looks out the window to represent the question: "What is dxm drug?".

What Does Dextromethorphan Do?

Dextromethorphan (DXM) is a common ingredient in many over-the-counter cough and cold medications. While it can be an effective cough suppressant if used as directed, it can also have dangerous psychoactive effects when misused.

DXM has dissociative properties, which means DXM effects may include hallucinations and a sense of detachment from reality, similar to drugs like PCP and ketamine. In high doses, DXM cough medicine can produce euphoria and sensory distortions, with different plateaus of effects ranging from mild to intense in presentation.

Some of the psychoactive effects associated with high-dose DXM use include confusion, paranoia, inappropriate laughter, and hallucinations. Users may also feel like they are floating or experience changes in hearing and touch. Long-term abuse of DXM can lead to severe psychological dependence.

DXM intoxication can cause over-excitability, loss of coordination, slurred speech, sweating, high blood pressure, nausea, vomiting, and involuntary movements of the eyeballs. It’s important to use cough and cold medications containing DXM only as directed and to be aware of the potential risks of misuse.

DXM Cough Syrup

DXM, or dextromethorphan, is a dissociative hallucinogenic substance that has the ability to alter perception and sensory experiences in the brain. The accessibility and availability have made DXM cough syrup an attractive option for individuals seeking a readily accessible and inexpensive means of achieving a high.

Misuse of DXM cough syrup can have serious consequences for both physical and mental well-being. High doses of DXM can lead to hazardous effects, including hallucinations, impaired judgment, disorientation, elevated heart rate, increased blood pressure, and even seizures. Prolonged abuse can result in liver damage, brain damage, memory loss, and psychological dependence on the substance. It is crucial to raise awareness about the risks associated with DXM misuse and to provide appropriate support and intervention to those in need.

Recognizing the signs and symptoms of DXM misuse is vital in order to provide timely support to those grappling with its abuse. Some common indicators include unexplained behavioral changes, excessive and frequent consumption of cough syrup, secretive or deceptive behavior, neglecting responsibilities and relationships, sudden decline in academic or occupational performance, as well as physical signs like dizziness, confusion, and impaired coordination.

What is Robotripping?

Robotripping, also known as dexing or skittling refers to the use of DXM (dextromethorphan) to attain a range of psychological and physical effects. The experience of robotripping can vary greatly depending on the dosage of DXM consumed, as the drug induces different stages of intoxication, often referred to as plateaus.

The first plateau is achieved with a dose of 100mg to 200mg of DXM. Individuals report effects that are likened to those of ecstasy (MDMA). This dosage level typically results in mild stimulation, an uplifting mood, increased sociability, and talkativeness.

Moving to the second plateau, achieved with a dose of 200mg to 400mg of DXM, the experience is comparable to alcohol intoxication, but with more noticeable impairment of motor and cognitive functions. Euphoria and hallucinations are also common at this dosage level.

The third plateau, reached with 400mg to 600mg of DXM, leads to effects similar to those induced by ketamine. This stage can be intense, causing strong dissociation, intense hallucinations, and significant loss of motor coordination. Individuals may feel almost incapacitated during this plateau.

The fourth plateau involves an extremely high dose of DXM, ranging from 500mg to 1,500mg. At this level, the effects are comparable to taking hallucinogens like PCP. The impact of this dose is long-lasting and difficult to shake off, with some individuals experiencing effects for up to two weeks after discontinuing DXM (although this occurrence is rare). Taking such a high dose induces a trance-like state, sensations of out-of-body experiences, and delirium. Hallucinations can be intense, often leading to aggressive or violent behavior. Additionally, reduced perception of pain is commonly reported.

Robotripping or using DXM in high doses carries significant risks to both physical and mental health. The potential for dangerous behavior and prolonged effects underscores the need for awareness and caution when it comes to DXM misuse.

an image of a man looking out at a body of water to represent  the question, "What’s dxm?".

What Drug Class is DXM?

DXM, or dextromethorphan, is classified as a dissociative anesthetic. Dissociative states involve a sense of detachment from surroundings and a distortion of perception and sensory experiences. Other drugs in this classification include ketamine and PCP (phencyclidine). These substances are all known for their ability to alter cognition, produce hallucinations, and create a sense of detachment from reality.

DXM Side Effects

The physical effects of DXM can vary depending on individual factors such as the dosage taken, the specific product consumed, and the person’s BMI (body mass index). It typically takes 30 to 60 minutes for the effects of DXM to become noticeable, with the peak effects occurring between 2 to 4 hours after ingestion.

DXM products often contain other active ingredients that can contribute to their overall effects. These additional ingredients may produce their own unique physical responses when combined with DXM.

Short-term physical effects of DXM may include:

  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Increased body temperature
  • Slurred speech
  • Dizziness
  • Lethargy
  • Hyperactivity
  • High blood pressure
  • Itching
  • Rash
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Involuntary eye movements
  • Seizures (rare)

The specific physical effects experienced may differ from person to person and may also be influenced by factors such as dosage, individual tolerance, and the presence of other active ingredients in DXM products. If you experience any adverse effects or have concerns about DXM use, seek medical attention and guidance.

Dangers of DXM

The risks of DXM use include:

  • Heatstroke: DXM can interfere with the body’s temperature regulation, leading to dangerously high body temperatures, and potentially triggering heatstroke, especially during physical exertion like dancing.
  • Higher risk of toxicity and overdose in some individuals: Up to 10% of Caucasians have a slower metabolism of DXM, which can increase the risk of overdose and death as the substance takes longer to clear from the body.
  • Respiratory depression: DXM depresses the CNS (central nervous system), including the respiratory system, leading to slow and shallow breathing. If untreated, this can progress to life-threatening respiratory arrest.
  • Dangerous behaviors: High doses of DXM can induce hallucinations, psychosis, and agitation, causing individuals to lose touch with reality. This can lead to engaging in dangerous activities they wouldn’t normally consider, such as running across a busy highway. DXM misuse has also been associated with incidents of assault, suicide, and homicide.
  • Liver damage: Many over-the-counter cough and cold medications containing DXM also contain acetaminophen. Taking more than the recommended dose of acetaminophen can cause serious liver damage.

You should be aware of these risks and use DXM and DXM-containing products responsibly and as directed. If you have any concerns or experience adverse effects, consult your healthcare provider. 

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Get Treatment for Drug Addiction at Renaissance Recovery

At Renaissance Recovery Center in Huntington Beach, we have established ourselves as a premier facility specializing in outpatient treatment for various types of addictions and mental health conditions, including issues associated with robotripping and DXM abuse. 

Our range of outpatient treatment programs offers you the flexibility to choose the level of support and structure that best suits your needs, including partial hospitalization programs, intensive outpatient programs, and dual diagnosis treatment programs for addictions co-occurring with mental health disorders.

Each of our Renaissance Recovery treatment programs provides you with access to personalized addiction treatment, incorporating a comprehensive range of holistic and evidence-based interventions. Our approach encompasses MAT (medication-assisted treatment), group counseling, individual counseling, psychotherapy, family therapy, experiential adventure therapy, and holistic therapies, as well as a robust aftercare component.

Take that vital first step towards reclaiming your life by reaching out to our admissions team at 866.330.9449. We are here to guide you on your path to lasting recovery.

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Joseph Gilmore has been in the addiction industry for three years with experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.

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