Guide to Robotripping: What is It?

robotripping | Renaissance Recovery
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By: Renaissance Recovery

Clinically Reviewed by: Diana Vo, LMFT

Last Updated:


Authored By: Joe Gilmore

Table of Contents

Robotripping is an informal term used to express using high doses of DXM (dextromethorphan) to experience a range of effects, both physical and psychological.

DXM is an OTC cough suppressant found in many cough syrups and cold medicines.

Robotripping typically involves much higher doses of DXM than recommended. This can be harmful, as can some of the other active ingredients in DXM when consumed in higher doses.

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What is Robotripping?

Dextromethorphan is available as an over-the-counter formulation that can temporarily alleviate coughing triggered by flu, colds, or other ailments. DMX belongs to a class of medications called antitussives.

DXM is available alone and also in combination products with medications like decongestants and antihistamines.

While the synthetic substance DXM is related to opioids, it does not cause analgesia and it has minimal sedating effect.

When taken in high doses, the effects of DXM are similar to the effects of ketamine and PCP (phencyclidine). Indeed, a slang term for DXM is poor man’s PCP. As a result, people often abuse dextromethorphan for its hallucinogenic and euphoric effects.

The misuse or abuse of DXM goes by many names, including:

  • Robotripping
  • Skittling
  • Dexing

According to this DXM factsheet published by the DEA, the most abused products associated with robotripping are:

Both of these are over-the-counter cough and cold medicines.

The DEA states that four different plateaus or levels can occur during a robotrip:

  1. First plateau: Doses of DXM from 100mg to 200mg induce mild stimulation.
  2. Second plateau: At doses between 200mg and 400mg, you will experience euphoria and hallucinations.
  3. Third plateau: DXM doses between 300mg and 600mg can distort visual perceptions and cause problems with motor coordination.
  4. Fourth plateau: The highest DXM plateau occurs at doses from 500mg to 1,500mg. DXM doses this high can bring about dissociative sedation.

The abuse of DXM for these recreational effects known as robotripping comes with some dangers that we’ll highlight below.

How Long Does a Robotrip Last?

Research shows that the effects of taking high doses of DXM take effect after 30 to 60 minutes, peaking after between two and four hours. Your BMI (body mass index) and the dose of DXM will influence the speed at which it kicks in.

Robotripping effects typically wear off after around six hours. The following variables can impact the duration of effects:

  • Dose of DXM
  • Your size and weight
  • Other active ingredients
  • Amount of food in your stomach


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Robotripping Symptoms

The physical effects induced by DXM vary according to the individual and the dose, as well as the type of DXM – some DXM products contain a variety of active ingredients, all producing their own effects.

Potential side effects of robotripping include:

  • Nausea
  • Hot flashes
  • Sweating
  • Itching
  • Rash
  • Increased body temperature
  • Slurred speech
  • Lethargy
  • Dizziness
  • Hyperactivity
  • Slow breathing
  • High blood pressure
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Unconsciousness
  • Involuntary eye movements
  • Seizure
  • Overdose

The Dangers of Robotripping

If you are tempted to try a robotrip, you should first consider the following potential dangers of this reckless form of recreational drug abuse:

  1. Engaging in risky behaviors
  2. Increased risk of overdose and toxicity in some people
  3. Can cause respiratory depression
  4. Possibility of liver damage
  5. Heatstroke

1) Engaging in risky behaviors

Taken in high doses, DXM is linked with dangerous behaviors stemming from the following effects:

  • Agitation
  • Hallucinations
  • Psychosis

If robotripping causes you to temporarily lose touch with reality, you will be more likely to engage with risky behaviors you would otherwise avoid.

Some research links the misuse of DXM with assault, homicide, and suicide.

2) Increased risk of overdose and toxicity in some people

According to DEA reports, between 5% and 10% of Caucasians struggle to efficiently metabolize DXM.

In those people, it takes longer for DXM to leave the system, heightening the risk of fatal overdose.

3) Can cause respiratory depression

As a CNS depressant, DXM depresses the central nervous system. The CNS is responsible for controlling your breathing.

If large doses of DXM prevent your lungs from exchanging carbon dioxide and oxygen, this can trigger respiratory depression. When untreated, the resultant slow and shallow breathing can cause respiratory arrest, possibly with deadly consequences.

4) Possibility of liver damage

Many OTC medications containing DXM also contain acetaminophen. This can cause serious liver damage, possibly fatal, when consumed in large doses.

5) Heatstroke

DXM has been associated with heat stroke and other heat emergencies. This is due to the way the medication disrupts temperature regulation in your body.

The risk of developing heatstroke when robotripping is magnified if you engage in physical exertion like dancing. For this reason, the condition is sometimes called rave-related heatstroke.

  • Note: If you take DXM with other substances, whether OTC medications, prescription medications, or illicit drugs, this can provoke serious interactions. Taking DXM in combination with other CNS depressants significantly increases the risk for overdose, respiratory arrest, and death.

How to Stop Robotripping

If you’re hoping to stop robotripping once you’ve started, you’re out of luck. As soon as you have taken DXM in large doses, you’ll need to wait around six hours for the robotrip to finish.

One option is to try sleeping the experience off. If you feel nauseous, you should position yourself upright in a comfy chair to mitigate the risks of vomiting.

Alternatively, try distracting yourself with some music or a movie.

Drink lots of water and some ginger tea if you are feeling sick. Remind yourself that the trip will soon be over and try to relax as much as possible.

Beyond this, consider quitting if you have been robotripping. DXM can lead to the development of tolerance, physical dependence, and psychological dependence. In the worst scenario, you could develop a substance use disorder.

Stop Addiction at Renaissance Recovery

Even though DXM is not illegal, that does not mean it is safe. In high doses, robotripping can trigger serious and long-lasting effects, including dependence.

Here at Renaissance Recovery, we specialize in the outpatient treatment of addictions. This allows you to benefit from the same services you would find in residential rehab at a fraction of the cost.

For anyone who has been robotripping and developed a more serious substance use disorder, we offer more intensive outpatient programs in the form of an IOP (intensive outpatient program) or a PHP (partial hospitalization program).

If you are suffering from a co-occurring mental health disorder, our dual diagnosis treatment program will help you to address both conditions simultaneously.

Regardless of the level of intensity that best suits your circumstances, you will have access to a personalized combination of the following evidence-based treatments here at Renaissance:

  • MAT (medication-assisted treatment)
  • Individual counselling
  • Group counselling
  • Family therapy
  • Psychotherapy (CBT and DBT, both proven effective for treating addictions and mental health conditions)

When you complete your treatment program, you will either transition directly back into daily living or step down to a less intensive form of therapy – from a PHP to a regular outpatient program, for instance. Either way, you’ll be equipped with new coping skills, a relapse prevention strategy, and a robust aftercare plan. Addiction is a chronic condition with a high relapse rate. We’re here to help you from detox to discharge and beyond.

Take the first vital step by reaching out to admissions at 866.330.9449.

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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.