Free 24-Hour Helpline Available

Call (844) 319-5239

View our 360 Tour of The Teen Treatment Center - Drug and Alcohol Rehab

Teen DXM and Robotussin Abuse

Chemical composition of DextromethorphanDXM, or dextromethorphan, is a medication that suppresses cough. It's found in a variety of over-the-counter cold and cough medications, but it can also be abused by individuals seeking a high. While DXM abuse is seen among people of all ages, it's primarily prevalent among teenagers.

The National Institutes of Health reviewed data about reported DXM abuse cases from 2000 through 2010, finding more than 44,000 cases to include in the study. Annually, DXM abuse averaged around 13.4 cases per million people in the United States for all ages, but when the study looked only at teens age 15 to 19 years old, annual prevalence rose to 113 cases per million people. That's a 743 percent increase in abuse of DXM in teenagers when compared to the general population. A Monitoring the Future Survey notes that as many as 5 percent of high school seniors use cough syrup in non-medical ways.

DXM can cause both auditory and visual hallucinations and create a sense of extreme euphoria; teens sometimes refer to getting high on DXM as robotripping or skittling. It's important for parents and other caregivers to be aware of the signs of DXM abuse, especially as these drugs are so easily accessible. While pharmacies in a lot of states do ask to see an ID and will only sell DXM and other cough syrup products to adults, teens can get them with fake IDs, take them from home medicine cabinets and even purchase them online.

The signs of DXM abuse range from physical and mental to behavioral, and prolonged abuse of cough syrup can lead to damaging health issues for teens. Parents or loved ones who suspect a teen in their lives is abusing DXM or is addicted to cough syrup should seek immediate professional assistance to find out about treatment options. You can call The Teen Treatment Center any time of the day or night to speak to a caring, experienced admissions counselor. Our number is (844)319-5239.

What is Robotussin abuse?

Cough Syrup AbuseRobotussin abuse can involve taking more than the recommended dose — sometimes teens will drink an entire bottle or more than one bottle. Other ways to abuse cough syrup can be to mix medications such as Delsym or Tussin with alcohol or other drugs to get an increased high. Some teenagers pop DXM pills in large amounts.

Another method of abusing DXM is drinking it as 'lean'. Lean is typically prescription strength cough syrup mixed with a soda such as Montain Dew or Sprite, often a hard candy is added. Other slang for this type of abuse is '(purple) drank', 'Sizzurp' 'Texas Tea' or 'double cups'(double styrofoam cups has become a way to represent what you are drinking among abusers). The use of lean has been popularized by several rappers including Lil' Wayne and Macklemore

Teens might use language to describe cough syrup abuse, so it's not readily apparent to others what is being discussed. Robotripping and skittling are two verbs teens might use to mean they are getting high on DXM, and they might also refer to the drug itself as Triple C. Other names for cough syrup or related street drugs include Red Devils, Dex and orange crush.

What are the effects of DXM use?

Dextromethorphan - Drug ProfileAdults know that a recommended dose of cough syrup does come with some side effects, such as drowsiness in some people, but DXM and related medications are typically considered safe and effective when used according to medical advice. Abusing DXM is not safe, however, and can lead to serious side effects.

Aside from feelings of euphoria and hallucinations, which are effects many teens seek as part of the high, DMX has a number of possible short-term physical and mental side effects. Some include:

  • Feelings of disorientation or problems concentrating
  • Loss of coordination or balance
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Slurred speech
  • Numbness in the extremities, particularly the toes or fingers
  • A heart beat that is faster than normal
  • Excessive sweating

Long-term abuse of dextromethorphan can lead to serious health complications, including problems with blood pressure regulation, cardiac disorders, liver damage and central nervous system damage.

Overdosing is possible, and use of the drug can be especially dangerous when combined with other substances, such as alcohol. Overdosing can lead to coma, heart attack and death.

The effects of DXM depend in part on how much of the medicine was imbibed.

  • Plateau 1: a mild high effect felt after taking 100-200mg
  • Plateau 2: hallucinations and euphoria experienced after taking 200-400mg
  • Plateau 3: Loss of coordination and distorted perception occur after taking 300-600mg
  • Plateau 4: Sedation and possible overdose happen for most people after taking 500-1500mg

If you suspect that your teen is abusing cough syrup, don't wait for him or her to end up in the emergency room because of an overdose. Call us today at (844)319-5239 to find out how we can help.

Signs of DXM abuse

In addition to any of the symptoms above, parents can watch for signs of drug abuse or evidence that teens are addicted to or abusing cough syrup. Some behavioral signs might include:

  • Anger and acting out in a hostile manner
  • Changes in the way the teen dresses or cares for himself or herself, especially in the negative direction
  • Lying
  • Stealing
  • New friends or changes in social circles
  • Staying away from home without explanation, especially if this is abnormal
  • Being secretive or attempting to hide things or lock his or her room
  • Not being able to focus on the present situation or remember conversations
  • Depressed moods
  • Being withdrawn or silent for long periods of time, especially when this isn't normal behavior for your teen

Obviously, some of these signs are also normal behavior exhibited by teenagers going through adolescence, but if you notice several of them along with the other symptoms described above, consider reaching out to a professional for more information.

Parents can also look for signs in the home that a teen is abusing cough syrup. A sudden uptick in the amount of cough medication you need to keep family medicine cabinets stocked can indicate that teens are taking the drugs and abusing them. Empty cough medicine bottles and boxes in the teen's room or the bathroom waste basket — especially when you know no one has a reason to use these things, is another sign. Other signs might include:

  • Your teen using slang that describes abusing cough syrup
  • Strange orders from internet companies
  • A web browsing history that explains how to abuse cough syrup
  • Medicinal smells on your child's clothing or in his or her room

Cough syrup accessibility for teenagers

Cough Syrup Abuse TreatmentAs mentioned above, teens can often easily access cough syrup in family medicine cabinets. They can also purchase it over-the-counter in some locations, frequently finding ways around rules that require customer IDs to be checked when purchasing DXM. Powered DXM is also sold online, and tech-savvy teens with their own debit cards or Paypal accounts likely won't find it difficult to score even syrup form on the web.

One thing that makes DXM particularly dangerous is that it's not illegal and teens sometimes don't associate it with illegal drugs. They don't see it as the serious health concern it really is, especially because they can find plenty of how-to information and recipes online for abusing it.

Teen treatment for DXM abuse

Just because DXM and the related medications aren't illegal doesn't mean treatment isn't necessary if your teen is abusing the substance. While DXM isn't considered to be physically addictive, it can be psychologically addicting, making it difficult for teens to stop using it.

DXM Detox

Detox usually refers to the medically supervised processes by which a patient comes off a physically addicting drug. Since DXM isn't considered physically addicting, this type of detox isn't usually necessary, so teens seeking addiction treatment can start with inpatient rehab and counseling without this step.

Benefits of a gender-separate treatment program

At The Teen Treatment Center, we use proven methods to help your teen identify the root causes of his or her abuse and learn life skills to avoid falling into use patterns again. Through group and individual counseling as well as recreational and educational activities, we help your teen realize the dangers of drugs and the benefits of a healthier, sober lifestyle.

We also know that triggers and other factors can lead to teen drug abuse, so we help your teen work through those types of issues to create a foundation of mental and emotional stability that helps support long-term sobriety. This includes working with family members in therapy sessions when applicable.

At The Teen Treatment Center, we offer separate residential treatment for girls and boys, ensuring your teens are more focused on their own treatment. Gender-separate treatment reduces distractions and helps teens feel more comfortable sharing in group sessions. Often, girls and boys face differing pressures, leading to different types of things discussed.

For more information about how The Teen Treatment Center can help your child overcome DMX abuse, contact us today. Call (844)319-5239 now.

Teen Treatment Center has been awarded
the Joint Commission Gold Seal of Approval.