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DXM Abuse: It Starts at Home
DXM is an uprising trend in abuse among teenagers and young adults. What is it and why is it so popular?
DXM is a common ingredient found in cough medicines, largely used to suppress coughs. However, it also has been used in psychological applications such as aiding in breaking drug addictions. Pure DXM looks like white crystals. DXM in itself is not dangerous. However, when administered above recommended doses i.e. abused, DXM becomes a hallucinogenic with effects comparable to people high on ketamine (Special K) or phencyclidine (PCP). As you can see, there is a possibility for abuse when you have a potential hallucinogen lurking in your fridge. DXM, however, can be found in many forms. It is also in lozenges and other cough drops.
According to a National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 3.1 million people between 12 and 25 years old have abused over-the-counter cough and cold medicines for this high. The most popular form of abuse, according to recent studies, is when teenagers overdose using Coricidin HBP Cough and Cold- also known as "Triple C". There are 30 milligrams of DXM in each small tablet, making it easy to swallow versus bottles of Robotussin. DXM is recommended to be taken no more than 15-30 milligrams a dose, but abusers can go ten times that amount to reach their "high".
What are the effects of a DXM high? Abusers have reported out-of-body experiences, hallucinations, and lack of physical control. Speech can be impaired and lethargy is not uncommon in DXM overdoses. Beyond that, the horrible side effects of brain damage, nausea, and lack of judgment can lead to a volatile situation. I had a friend in college who decided to swallow an entire bottle of Robotussin in 30 minutes. She came to my room for help afterwards, spending the first hour throwing up, dizzy, and not having fun at all. The next three hours she hallucinated and had interesting conversations, but in the end, she declared the high "not worth it" and vowed never to try again. Just watching her pain and suffering was enough to let me know it wasn't worth it. Now that I am a parent, I am even more aware.
The most preventative measures you can take as a parent are always rooted in three areas: Education, Communication, and Protection. Educate yourself and make informed decisions by researching drug abuse trends by visiting websites such as the Drug Abuse Warning Network and the Food and Drug Administration.
Communicate your new knowledge to your children, letting them know the horrible side effects and dangers of DXM abuse. Maybe they know friends or people who have done this and do not realize the dangers. Remember, DXM in itself isn't dangerous; it is the abuse of DXM that is.
Finally, protect your family by making sure that any medication is carefully monitored for use. You can do this by administering the medicine yourself as opposed to sending your teenager to get it for you. Also, lock up and protect medicines that have potential for abuse.