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Drugs: Robo-Trippin’ (Dextromethorphan, or DXM)


Dextromethorphan (also, DXM or DM) is a dissociative hallucinogenic drug used as a cough suppressant (antitussive) in cold medicines. Examples include Mucinex DM, Robitussin, NyQuil, and Dimetapp. Recreational users of DXM ingest anywhere from ten to seventy-five times the recommended dosage of ten to sixty milligrams, seeking euphoria along with a dissociative trip.

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The act of getting high on DXM is sometimes referred to as “robo-tripping”.


Dextromethorphan comes from levomethorphan, an opioid analgesic (prescribed for treatment of chronic pain). In its pure crystalline powder form, DXM is odorless, and ranges in color from white to slightly yellow. In medicinally-recommended doses, DXM is merely a cough suppressant. At higher doses, the effects become dissociative.

DXM was first patented in 1949 as a supposedly non-addictive substitute for codeine, a regularly-abused narcotic painkiller and cough suppressant. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) later approved dextromethorphan as a prescription antitussive in September, 1954, and then as anover-the-counter drug in 1958. Proponents of this drug lauded both DXM’s lower sedative effects than codeine, and its allegedly lower potential for abuse. However, researchers may have overlooked psychological dependencies as a result of DXM abuse.

The heyday of recreational DXM use was during the 1960s and 1970s, when Romilar, a tablet form of DXM, became available over-the-counter. In 1973, Romilar was banned from pharmacy shelves due to widespread misuse. However, recreational users continued to buy and abuse Romilar’s syrupy successors.

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Beginning in September of 2013, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo prohibited pharmaceutical retailers from selling DXM to anyone eighteen years or younger without a doctor’s prescription (see S.696-B / A.933-B). Any local retailer that fails to request an identification from a DXM buyer who looks twenty-five or younger receives a fine of $250 per violation.

Administration: Feeling under the weather?Need to dissociate? Get some Mucinex or Robitussin with DXM in it. Take way more than the recommended ten to sixty milligrams, preferably anywhere from ten to seventy-five times the recommended dosage. Now, get really “ill”!

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DXM effects generally kick in within thirty minutes to two hours. The dissociative DXM trip is one where the user feels “out of it”, or loses full awareness of the immediate surroundings. He or she also experiences an insulating warmth all over. Some lose track of time. At higher doses, the user reaches a different plateau, experiencing visual and/or auditory hallucinations.

The speed at which the medicine metabolizes largely depends upon whether the medicine is in powder, liquid or gel cap form. An empty stomach also facilitates metabolism of DXM. These effects wear off within six to ten hours, depending upon dosage.

Following ingestion, the liver converts the medicine into dextrorphan, which enters the blood stream and then crosses the blood-brain barrier. Once in the brain, DXM elevates the threshold for coughing, and then at recreational doses, leads to a euphoric dissociation. This is because dextrorphan acts as a nonselective serotonin reuptake inhibitor by blocking transporters from terminating and recycling active serotonin. This leads to increased active serotonin levels.

The dextromethorphan “crash” is characterized by slurred speech, drowsiness, shallow breathing, dizziness, and hallucinations. An overdose leads to nausea and violent vomiting.

With prolonged use of DXM, users experience only psychological, not physical, addiction. As with nitrous oxide (a.k.a. “laughing gas”), further research is needed to substantiate the risk of fatal Olney’s lesions within the brain cortices.

So there’s your crash course on how DXM works. We know you’re not heading over to the medicine cabinet to powder up some Mucinex. Right…?

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DISCLAIMER: Turn Up does not condone the illegal consumption of drugs, including DXM/DM. Improper use can lead to severe legal consequences, including a permanent criminal record and trouble securing employment or obtaining acceptances to graduate programs. The safest way to avoid such complications is to abstain from DXM/DM altogether, or to use the drug only under a healthcare professional’s guidance. None of the aforementioned is to be construed as medical or legal advice from Turn Up.



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Hel Ya

Helen Yang ("Hel Ya", Writer) synthesizes Turn Up's creative energies into online form. She has partied in cities outside of New York from L.A. to Shanghai. Hel Ya currently resides in Queens, NY.

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