DXM (dextromethorphan) is an opioid agent used as a cough suppressant. DXM has been around since the 1960’s and is found in more than 140 over-the-counter products. Abuse of DXM, especially by teenagers in the rave scene, is becoming more widespread throughout the United States. Because of this, interest in the drug is growing rapidly.
Street names for dextromethorphan include “C-C-C”, “Robo”, “Skittles”, “Red Devils”, “DXM”, “robo-tripping”, “tussin”, or “dex”.
Some of the effects of DXM include: mental status changes, lethargy, ataxia, slurred speech, confusion, hallucinations and seizures. Other potential health hazards are: dry mouth, loss of body fluid, dry itchy skin, blurred vision, cognitive alterations, delusions, nausea, abdominal pain, vomiting, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, numbness of fingers or toes, redness of face, headache, loss of consciousness and death.
Extent of Use
A recent survey of 376 4th – 12th graders in New Mexico revealed that non-prescription products containing dextromethorphan ranked significantly higher in selection to “get high” than those without it. The most frequently identified abused product was Nyquil®. The reported abuse appeared to increase with student age.
In addition to the Unites States, cases of dextromethorphan abuse have been reported in Sweden, Australia, Germany and Canada. Dextromethorphan-related deaths have been seen in Sweden. Of twenty-five intentional exposures to dextromethorphan reported to the Maryland Poison Center in 2000, eighteen involved adolescents and young adults. Sixteen of these exposures were classified as intentional abuse and nine were classified as intentional use for a suspected suicide attempt. There were eight cases of intentional ingestion of a dextromethorphan- containing product called Coricidin® HBP Cough and Cold. The Cincinnati Drug & Poison Information Center reported a series of 19 Coricidin® HBP Cough and Cold cases over a 6- week period in 2000.