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Recreational use of Cough Medicines

DXM, or Dextromethorphan, was my wonder drug for years. I would use it before going to a concert, going to school or even before going to the bathroom. It was one of the cheapest ways for me to get loaded. While not physically addictive, DXM was one of my first steps into the downward stairwell of drug abuse. What started as using once a month quickly became an almost daily ingestion of the substance. I had plenty of excuses for my using, such as “it’s legal!” or “at least it isn’t a harder drug”, but I ended up turning to more addictive substances. My disease isn’t about a specific drug; it’s about getting out of my mind and changing my perception. Dextromethorphan was my first glimpse at an altered reality.

Dextromethorphan (when used at recommended doses) is an antitussive that assists in relieving the user of coughing. It is found in many over the counter medications, which is why the drug is typically used recreationally by teens and young adults. Since it is legal and inexpensive, it makes it immensely easy to procure. While it takes a fairly large amount of DXM to overdose, the real danger is with other ingredients found in some cough medicines. A great example of this is Coricidin Cold and Cough, sometimes called “Triple C’s”. These pills contain chlorpheniramine maleate, an antihistamine that is very toxic at lower doses. DXM abuse became popular in the news when teens began to overdose on Triple C’s. Since the users of the drug tend to be a younger age group, many of them overlook the dangers of Coricidin as they pursue the effects of this cheap high.

Similar to Ketamine and PCP, DXM is categorized as a dissociative. While not noticed at lower the lower levels, at higher doses many users have an “out of body experience”. Other effects are increased appreciation of music, closed and open eyed visuals (vaguely comparable to hallucinogens), slurred speech, and trouble with movement. It is also extremely difficult to sleep after a trip. I would be up for about 2 days after getting loaded. Because the drug is so easy to get access to, many people consider it a “lame drug”. I can assure you though, Dextromethorphan is far more powerful and dangerous than the drug community would like you to realize. The negative aspects of using are very real.

While I personally have not witnessed anyone else overdosing, I have had plenty of friends who experienced adverse effects on DXM, and I myself ended up in a 2 day coma from mixing the substance with hard opiates. One of my main reasons for abstaining from drug abuse was that horrifying situation. The dangers associated with the risks I took didn’t become apparent to me until I experienced an overdose first hand. While it wasn’t the most pleasant event I’ve gone through, I got many benefits from it. My eyes were finally opened to what I was doing to my body, and all the pain that I had been putting my loved ones through via my addiction. I’ve truly turned my life around after that ordeal, and I now have one thing to thank my extended use of DXM for: Giving me an open mind about sobriety.


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