There are countless documentaries on the horrors of substances like meth, heroin, alcohol, and cocaine, but it is rare to hear anything in the media about addictions to dextromethorphan. Dextromethorphan, which is also referred to as DXM, is the active ingredient in most over-the-counter cough suppressants, and there is a growing segment of the population who not only use this recreationally, but many often become both physically and mentally dependent on the substance.
What is DXM?
The use of cough syrup containing dextromethorphan became legal for over-the-counter purchases in 1954. Initially, dextromethorphan was created in an attempt to create an alternative to codeine cough suppressants because many people were found to be abusing codeine. Over the next few decades, instances of abuse grew in large part because cough syrup containing dextromethorphan is incredibly accessible. In many areas, there are no age restrictions to purchasing the substance, making it a simple way for individuals, especially teens, to get high.
When taken in a large enough dose, this drug becomes dangerously psychoactive. The chemical makeup of this drug is similar to ketamine, phencyclidine, and LSD, which are both known psychoactive substances. Because this substance is generally considered safe when taken as directed on the label, the public is largely unaware of the fact that DXM is abused at an alarmingly high rate, and many of those who abuse this drug become dependent on it. Tolerance builds up quickly, and before the individual knows it, they are now fighting a full-blown dextromethorphan addiction.
What Are the Side Effects?
As stated earlier, large doses of DXM cause hallucinations in users, but there are a number of other possible side effects that users can have. Individuals abusing DXM can experience many short-term issues like dizziness, blurred vision, visual disturbances, difficulty urinating, nausea, and excitement. Long term, abusers can experience seizures, loss of consciousness, liver damage, increased heart rate, and coma.
What Can Be Done to Combat This Problem?
First and foremost, the public needs to be made aware of the potential for abuse that dextromethorphan carries with it. In excess, this substance is as harmful as any other drug that you may come across, and in some cases, it is even more dangerous because it is so easily accessible by the public. Many activists believe that medications containing DXM should be kept behind the pharmacy counter and that buyers should be monitored for the number of medications that are purchased in a given amount of time.
If you or a loved one is struggling with dextromethorphan addiction, both of you should know that this problem is not rare, and you are not alone. Every day, drug counselors, psychologists, and psychiatrists are learning more information about the dangers of this drug. Most rehabilitation facilities are familiar with this issue, as well. More than anything, the public needs to be made aware of the extreme dangers of experimenting with DXM. As with any drug carrying the potential for physical and mental dependence, the rewards are never worth the risks.