YouTube search the term “DXM.” You’ll find thousands of videos that chronicle the adventures teenagers “robotripping,” or getting high on dextromethorphan. This drug is known on the streets as DXM, CCC, Triple C and Skittles. It’s also known as Robo because it is found in a number of over the counter cough and cold medications like Robotussin DM.
An alarming number of young adults are abusing DXM by chugging bottles of cough medicine or taking excessive does of tablet and gel capsules that contain the compound. According to the Food and Drug Administration, between 2004 and 2008, the number of dextromethorphan abuse related emergency room visits increased over 70 percent. In 2008 approximately 8,000 people were hospitalized due to DXM injuries, and more than half of these cases were people 12-20 years old. The Department of Health and Human Services is currently reviewing ways to counter this dangerous drug abuse trend in the United States.
Pharmacologicaly, the dextromethorphan acts similar to hallucinogens like PCP. It produces euphoric effects when it is ingested in concentrations 10 to 20 times greater than the recommended 10-30 mg dose. FDA researchers say “robotripping” has increased over the past few years because DXM is cheap and easy to access. It is currently found in over 125 over the counter medications.
Furthermore, many people think dextromethorphan is harmless. YouTube footage often features teens having fun or enjoying their high in the company of others. Few videos, depict the health hazards of abusing dextromethorphan. When used inappropriately, DXM can increase blood pressure and heart rate and cause a fever. Large quantities of cough and cold medication can also cause an abuser to overdose on the other active ingredients present in the mixture. These ingredients may damage the liver, suppress the central nervous system, prohibit respiratory function, and even lead to death.
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