DXM, or dextromethorphan, is a cough suppressant drug found in cough syrups and cough medicines. It can be used recreationally, but there are risks.

DXM is found in more than 125 OTC products and comes in various forms, most commonly in cough suppressants in caplet or liquid form. Medications in brands such as Robitussin, Vicks, and Coricidin HBP, are among those that can be abused.

what is dxmDXM is a safe and effective cough suppressant when used as indicated on the product label. However, when taken in doses that far exceed the amount recommended, the ingredient may produce feelings of euphoria that some seek to get “high.” A teenager looking to get high or experiment with drugs may turn to OTC cough and cold preparations that contain dextromethorphan because they are readily available at home or the local drug store. Dextromethorphan can also be purchased in a bulk powder form on the Internet. Some Web sites encourage teenagers to abuse dextromethorphan and actually offer “recipes” for the best way to achieve a high.

Accounts of persons abusing dextromethorphan began appearing in science journals during the 1960s. In the 1990s news media reports described the substance as popular among teenagers, who sometimes referred to this drug use as “robo-copping.” Usage by persons of that age group is not limited to the United States. For example, authorities in Korea have expressed concern about fatal overdoses among young illicit users, particularly when they combine dextromethorphan with another drug to intensify effects.


Short term effects of DXM

That depends on how much you take. There are four different kinds of experiences, based on the dosage; these are called plateaus. The first plateau is a mild stimulant effect with a little bit of a buzz, and has been compared to ecstasy. The second plateau is more intoxicating and has been compared to being drunk and stoned at the same time. The third plateau is dissociative, like a lower dose of ketamine. The fourth plateau is fully dissociative like a higher dose of ketamine.

the effects of dxmYou should not attempt higher plateau doses unless you have someone with you who can take care of you in case you get sick or freak out. It happens on DXM. Many things can happen unexpectedly on upper plateaus, such as spontaneous memory recall, complex delusions, hallucinations, out-of-body experiences, near-death experiences, and perceived contact with spiritual or alien entities. You need to be pretty stable and grounded before you can handle these things.


  • euphoria, mood lift
  • increased giggling and laughing
  • dissociation of mind from body (positive when sought)
  • creative dream-like experiences
  • increased tactile sensation
  • some users report empathic feelings, forgiveness, warm feelings towards others


  • pupil dilation
  • visual stop motion effect (flanging or strobing)
  • visual and aural hallucinations
  • decreased sexual functioning (difficulty achieving orgasm)
  • confusion, disorientation
  • skin sensitivity, alters tactile (touch) and skin sensations
  • robotic, zombie-like walking, “robo-walk”
  • discoordination, reduced agility
  • Loss of appetite
  • Involuntary flexing of muscles
  • Feelings of merging with adjacent objects like a couch or bed (with higher doses)


  • upset stomach, vomiting
  • dizzyness
  • body itching
  • rash, red blotchy skin
  • diarrhea
  • fever
  • tachycardia (racing, pounding heart)
  • some users report feeling disconnected, isolated from others
  • some users report hangover/depression on the following 1-2 days.

DXM Long term effets

The abuse of cough medications including DXM can contain other ingredients, such as acetaminophen, which can be very dangerous when taken in large quantities. For example, large quantities of acetaminophen can damage the liver.

DXM is also sometimes abused with other drugs or alcohol, which can increase the dangerous physical effects.