DXM and OTC Medicine Abuse

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If you’re raising a teenager and you don’t know much about DXM or cough medicine abuse, you’re hardly alone. DXM, or dextromethorphan, is a common ingredient in cough and cold medications. Teens and young adults, however, have found another use for cough medicine – getting high. Taking huge doses of cough medicine to get high may sound revolting. In fact, you might assume it’s just an obscure fringe thing.

You would be wrong. A 2008 study found that one in 11 American teenagers has abused products with DXM to get high, making it more popular in that age group than cocaine, ecstasy, LSD, and meth. Although DXM products are quite safe when taken as recommended, high doses can cause hallucinogenic trips and pose serious risks.

DXM is an ingredient in almost half of all of OTC drugs sold in the U.S. For teens experimenting with drugs, DXM is cheap, easy to get, and legal.

Surprised? Many people are.

“A lot of parents just have no idea,” says Deborah Levine MD, clinical assistant professor of pediatrics and emergency medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center. “Alarms would sound if they ever found an empty beer can in a teenager’s car, but they wouldn’t think twice about an empty bottle of cough syrup or used-up package of tablets.”

As a conscientious parent, you may occasionally check the bottles in the liquor cabinet, or sniff for the scent of pot. It’s time to also pay attention to what’s in your medicine cabinet.

Common Slang Terms for DXM

Dex or Drex: Street terms for cold and cough medicines with dextromethorphan

Orange crush: A term for some cough medicines with dextromethorphan. It may stem from the orange-colored syrup – and packaging -of brands like Delsym

Poor man’s PCP, or Poor man’s X: Products with dextromethorphan, since they’re cheap but can cause effects similar to those of PCP or ecstasy at high doses

Red devils: Another term for Coricidin tablets or other cough medicines

Red hots: A term for capsules or tablets with dextromethorphan. The term comes from their resemblance to the candy.

Robo: Usually a reference to cough syrup with dextromethorphan. It derives from the brand name Robitussin, but it is common slang for any cough syrup.

Robo-dosing: Abusing products with dextromethorphan, like cough syrups.

Robo-fizzing: Combining cough medicine with soda or alcohol.

Robotard: A term for someone who abuses dextromethorphan.

Robo-tripping: Abusing products with dextromethorphan. The term refers to the hallucinogenic trips that people experience at high doses.

Rojo: Cold and cough medicines with dextromethorphan. “Rojo” is Spanish for “red,” and refers to the color of many syrups and gelcaps.

Skittles: Usually applied to Coricidin tablets with dextromethorphan, since they have a size and shape similar to the candy.

Skittling: Another term for abusing products with dextromethorphan. It applies specifically to using Coricidin tablets, sometimes called Skittles after the candy.

Syrup head: Someone who uses cough syrups or other products with dextromethorphan to get high.

Triple C’s or CCCs: A term for Coricidin tablets with dextromethorphan, which have three small C’s printed on each tablet for “Coricidin Cold and Cough.”

Tussin: Another term for cough syrup with dextromethorphan.

Tussing: A term for using products with dextromethorphan. It refers to cough syrups such as Robitussin.

Velvet or velvet syrup: Cough syrup with dextromethorphan.

Vitamin D: Another term for medicines with dextromethorphan, often applied to Robitussin products.

Contibuted by Guest Blogger Jill Erickson