Dextromethorphan / DXM
Dextromethorphan is a cough-suppressing ingredient in a variety of OTC cold and cough medications. Read More ›
Dextromethorphan (DXM) is a cough-suppressing ingredient in a variety of OTC cold and cough medications. It is found in more than 125 OTC products and comes in various forms, most commonly in cough suppressants in caplet or liquid form.
Why are teens abusing products that contain dextromethorphan?
Dextromethorphan 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.
What does dextromethorphan do?
Depending on the dose, DXM's effects vary. Misuse of the drug creates both depressant and mild hallucinogenic effects. Users report a set of distinct dose-dependent "plateaus" ranging from a mild stimulant effect with distorted visual perceptions to a sense of complete dissociation from one's body. If a child consumes large doses of a product containing dextromethorphan, it may cause a number of adverse effects including:
Another major concern is the risk incurred when abusers get high and engage in activities requiring reasonable judgment and quick reactions, like driving or swimming. The effects induced by overdose of DXM can make these activities deadly.
How can I tell if my child is abusing dextromethorphan?
You should be concerned if you notice that your child is taking excessive amounts of a cold and flu remedy, or if he or she continues to take medicine even after symptoms have subsided. Likewise, if cough and cold medications seem to disappear from the medicine cabinet or if you find packages of cough and cold preparations in the child's room or backpack, he or she may be abusing the product.
What else can I do?
Talking with teens and staying in touch with their lives are the first steps to keeping them free from abusing consumer products and medications. Following are a few basic preventative steps that you can take to help your child understand the importance of using OTC medications responsibly and help discourage abuse of dextromethorphan.
Source: The National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign