Dextromethorphan Addiction and Abuse
Dextromethorphan is a cough suppressant, or antitussive, used widely in over-the-counter and prescription cough and cold medicines. It is used to suppress and relieve coughing by helping to reduce the natural cough reflex. Dextromethorphan may be combined with other agents used to treat cold and flu symptoms such as antihistamines, decongestants and pain relievers. There are many over-the-counter products sold in the United States containing Dextromethorphan for use by both adults and children. Given its availability, dextromethorphan addiction and abuse has been documented in some users. They can be purchased from drugstores, pharmacies, supermarkets and online, and do not require ID or a prescription to do so.
Teens in particular are commonly associated with Dextromethorphan abuse due to its relative ease of accessibility, low cost, perceptions of safety and euphoric highs. The drug may also cause hallucinations at dosages between 10-20 times higher than the recommended 10-30mg advised for cough suppression.
Dextromethorphan is a white powder taken orally in tablet, capsule or liquid form, it may be sold on the street in powdered form.
Common Street Names for Dextromethorphan
Dextromethorphan is known in non-medical circles by the brand names of products that include Dextromethorphan as an active ingredient. These include:
- Babee Cof Syrup
- Benylin Pediatric Formula
- Childrens’ Pedia Care
- ElixSure Cough Childrens
- Father Johns Medicine
- Robafen Cough
- Silphen DM
- Simply Cough
- St Joseph
- Vicks 44 Cough Relief
On the street, the drug is also known as:
- Triple C
- Poor Man’s PCP
- Poor Man’s X
- Vitamin D
Dextromethorphan is a non-opioid cough suppressant that in high doses may also be considered a Central Nervous System suppressant . It is a legal substance with FDA approval, and is considered dangerous only when abused, although pregnant women are advised against using Dextromethorphan throughout the duration of the pregnancy. The drug was approved by the FDA in 1958 and is considered one of the most widespread cough suppressants worldwide. It does not fall under the Controlled Substances Act.
History and Trends in Dextromethorphan Addiction and Abuse
Dextromethorphan abuse is common among teens, with 1 in 30 using it or over-the-counter cough medicines to get high. Because of the drug’s widespread availability and lack of need for a prescription, there is a perception that the drug is unlikely to be risky. Government research suggests that Dextromethorphan is misused by up to 6.6% of high school seniors.
In 2005 the FDA released a media release highlighting its concerns around the sale of Dextromethorphan by street dealers, who typically sell the product in pure, powdered form. This followed the report of the deaths of five teenagers whose deaths were deemed to be the result of ingesting an overdose of Dextromethorphan. An inquiry into the risks associated with Dextromethorphan products was subsequently undertaken, and in 2006 the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) began to take steps to reduce abuse of the drug by teens.
Side effects of Dextromethorphan
The short term side effects of Dextromethorphan include euphoria, slurred speech, increased heart rate and blood pressure, increased body temperature, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, paranoia, disorientation, changes to visual perception and issues with motor functions. Adverse side effects associated with Dextromethorphan abuse include breathing problems, seizures and a rapid heart rate, especially when used in combination with other medications or alcohol.
Withdrawal symptoms of Dextromethorphan
When used according to product guidelines, Dextromethorphan should not result in addiction or withdrawal symptoms upon stoppage. However, dependence and depression can be associated with prolonged Dextromethorphan abuse, and insomnia, dysphoria and depression may result in heavy users who cease using Dextromethorphan.
Treatment for Dextromethorphan Addiction and Abuse
Currently there are no FDA-approved medications for treating Dextromethorphan addiction or addiction to other over-the-counter cough medications, and additional research into the efficacy of behaviour therapy is needed.
However, Dextromethorphan addiction can be harmful, and the long-term physical and psychological side effects of Dextromethorphan should not be ignored. In cases where a user is taking high levels of Dextromethorphan over a prolonged period, a medical intervention may be required.
Taking this route will help manage withdrawal symptoms and psychological cravings, both of which can lead users to relapse. A detoxification program or intervention can help with Dextromethorphan addiction and abuse rehabilitation, particularly when combined with cognitive-behavioral therapy designed to target the underlying issues a user might be facing.
If you or someone you love is abusing Dextromethorphan, please seek help today. Contact White Sands Tampa at 1-877-640-7820 regarding a personalized treatment program.