Is DXM Addictive?

Written by Will Long

Dextromethorphan, commonly known as DXM, is a drug found in many over-the-counter cough and cold medicines. When taken as directed, DXM is a safe and effective way to relieve cough symptoms. However, DXM is often abused in high doses to produce euphoria and dissociative effects. This abuse can lead to addiction and serious health consequences.

What Is DXM?

DXM is a cough suppressant that works by decreasing activity in the part of the brain that causes coughing. It is the active ingredient in more than 120 over-the-counter cold and cough medications, including Robitussin, Coricidin, Dimetapp, and Vicks. DXM was approved by the FDA in 1958 and has been available over the counter since the 1970s.

When taken in the recommended doses of 10 to 30 mg every four to six hours, DXM is a safe way to relieve cough symptoms caused by the common cold, flu, or other conditions. However, when taken in doses of 250 mg or higher, DXM produces intoxicating effects that some people abuse to get high. DXM abuse most commonly occurs among teenagers and young adults who drink large amounts of cough syrup or take many DXM pills at once.

Side Effects And Risks Of DXM Abuse

Taking high doses of DXM can cause a range of short-term and long-term side effects. In the short term, DXM abuse causes effects similar to those of ketamine or PCP, including:

  • Euphoria
  • Dizziness
  • Double or blurred vision
  • Slurred speech
  • Confusion and disorientation
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Increased blood pressure and heart rate
  • Loss of motor control
  • Seizures

Long-term abuse can lead to even more serious consequences, including:

  • Liver damage
  • Psychosis
  • Persistent speech difficulties
  • Memory loss
  • Social and academic problems
  • Addiction

DXM is psychologically addictive, meaning people can develop cravings and a compulsion to keep using it despite negative consequences. Repeated abuse can also cause physical dependence and withdrawal symptoms when use is reduced or stopped.

Why Is DXM Abuse Dangerous?

In addition to its potential for addiction and dangerous side effects, DXM abuse is risky because the drug is so easily accessible. DXM products are cheap, legal, and readily available on store shelves, making them an appealing target for abuse, especially among young people.

Many people also mistakenly believe that abusing DXM or other over-the-counter drugs is safer than using illicit drugs. But the reality is that abusing any drug, including DXM, is dangerous and can lead to serious health problems. High doses of DXM can cause life-threatening overdose, and combining it with other substances like alcohol significantly increases the risk.

Another danger is that some cold medicines contain other active ingredients that can be harmful in large doses, such as acetaminophen, which can cause severe liver damage when abused. It can also interact dangerously with various prescription medications and supplements.

How JourneyPure At The River Can Help With Addiction

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, know that help and treatment are available. At JourneyPure At The River, we provide a full continuum of evidence-based care to help individuals overcome addiction and maintain long-term recovery.

Our comprehensive approach addresses addiction’s physical, mental, and spiritual aspects through medically supervised detox, individual and group therapy, 12-step support, and a range of holistic treatments. Located along the Stones River in Tennessee, JourneyPure At The River provides a peaceful, restorative setting for healing.

If you’re ready to break free from addiction, we’re here to help. Call us today at 615-410-9260 to learn more about our program and start your journey to recovery.