Dextromethorphan (DXM) is an active ingredient found in cough medicine and is used as a cough suppressant. DXM is a legal drug that can be purchased by anyone, including preteens in most states. Over-the-counter medications, such as Vicks, Robitussin, and NyQuil contain DXM and are used to relieve a cold-related cough. Many people abuse medications containing DXM to get high and as a result, develop an addiction. A normal drug test will not detect the drug, which encourages more people to use it.

  • Morgan Griffin wrote an article on teens and DXM drug abuse for WebMD  and stated, “A 2008 study found that one in 10 American teenagers has abused products with DXM to get high, making it more popular in that age group than cocaine, ecstasy, LSD, and meth. Although DXM products are quite safe when taken as recommended, high doses can cause hallucinogenic trips — and pose serious risks.”

The other ingredients in these medications can cause liver damage, seizures or coma, vomiting, loss of coordination, and fast heart rate. Some people who abuse DXM separate the other ingredients using chemicals, which can be easy to attain. Certain websites sell pure DXM powder, making it more convenient and accessible without the side effects of acetaminophen and guaifenesin.

Teens are very susceptible to addiction, especially when they experiment with drugs or alcohol. Substance addiction causes harmful effects on the teen’s brain, which does not finish developing and growing until he or she is their lower to mid-twenties.

Teens are impulsive and often do not consider the consequences of their actions. DXM abuse affects critical thinking, awareness, coordination, movement, and speech, as with most substances heightens reckless behavior and results in organ failure, overdose, or early death.

Here are signs to look for if you suspect your teen is abusing cough medicine:

  • Empty bottles or containers of medicine in your teen’s room or backpack
  • Large amounts of cough syrup purchased when not sick
  • Visits to websites that promote DXM abuse
  • Slang used for DXM, such as skittles, tussin, robo-trippin, or dexxing
  • Changes in routine or interests
  • Hostile attitude and mood changes

Addiction is treatable and recovery is possible. Understand the signs of substance abuse and get help if you suspect your teen is abusing substances. There may be an underlying mental health disorder contributing to your teen’s self-destructive behavior. Nexus Recovery Services provides treatment for a dual diagnosis.  

If you or a loved one struggle with addiction, get help now. Nexus Recovery Services specializes in addiction treatment and encompasses holistic therapy for the mind, body, and soul with a focus on staying active and connected to nature. Our mission is to provide tools and support for every client’s seamless transition into a meaningful and fulfilling life of sobriety. We offer a free and confidential consultation. Call us to get started: 888-855-6877

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