Dextromethorphan Addiction Treatment
Dextromethorphan (DXM) is the active ingredient in many over-the-counter cough suppressants, such as Dimetapp DM, Robitussin DM, Sudafed, Alka-Seltzer Plus, and Dayquil (among others). Used as directed, DXM has low risk to those in need of cold and flu symptom treatment. When DXM is overused, however, the results could be fatal. So how can an over-the-counter cold medication be so dangerous? What are the signs of abuse? And how can DXM addiction be effectively treated?
Signs and Symptoms of DXM Abuse
The amount of DXM consumed as prescribed usually ranges from fifteen to thirty milligrams (mg). When someone is abusing DXM, users can consume more than 300 mg at a time, causing a high that requires more and more of the drug to maintain. Some partygoers use DXM as an alternative to PCP due to the drugs’ similarities.
Teens tend to engage in DXM abuse since possession of DXM is perfectly legal and relatively inexpensive. Users refer to DXM abuse as “C-C-C,” “Robo/Robotripping,” “Dex/Drex,” “Skittles,” or “Velvet.” Even the occasional user is at risk for psychological addiction due to the euphoric effects of DXM.
The symptoms of DXM abuse include:
- Slurred speech
- Increased heart rate
- Feeling “heavy”
- Loss of motor skills and balance
When taken recreationally, DXM causes a psychedelic effect similar to that of PCP and Ketamine. Users experience euphoria, hallucinations, and dissociative properties for as long as the drug is in their bodies. For instance, if an eight-hour cold medication is taken at high doses, the user will experience the effects of DXM for eight hours. While more of the drug won’t make the effects last longer, it will make the effects stronger—which could lead to overdose.
DXM Overdose Symptoms
DXM overdose can occur any time a user takes too much of the substance. Physicians may need help identifying the drug that is causing the overdose symptoms. It’s important to disclose the drug or drugs used, how much, and the last dose to properly diagnose and treat the patient. Diagnostic tests may be administered to determine the severity of the overdose and the damage it has caused.
Symptoms of DXM overdose include:
- Shallow or labored breathing (can cause user to stop breathing)
- Bluish fingernails and lips
- Vision problems
- Loss of balance
- High/low blood pressure
- Muscle spasms
- Nausea and vomiting
- Heart palpitations
- Rapid heartbeat
- High body temperature
- Stomach spasms
Treatment for DXM overdose includes IV fluids, charcoal, medication to combat symptoms, laxative, and breathing support. The survival of the user depends on fast action, so it’s important to contact emergency services at the very first sign of overdose.
How DXM Addiction Happens
DXM addiction is different from other substances such as opioids, alcohol, and stimulants in that there is no physical need for the drug. The brain doesn’t undergo lasting changes, and the body doesn’t develop a tolerance to DXM. Users of DXM often experience a psychological addiction, which happens when the user develops a habit of using a substance at a certain time of day or with certain people. It’s important to observe the symptoms of DXM abuse and find treatment to get to the bottom of the psychological need for the drug.
Treatment for DXM Addiction
Since DXM is a psychological addiction, detoxing from the drug is not the same as other physically addictive substances. There are no severe reactions due to withdrawal. Users may experience a “hangover” effect after DXM has worn off, which can be treated with fluids and rest. Medical intervention for DXM withdrawal isn’t necessary; however, rehab may be crucial to address the psychological addiction and to learn alternative coping mechanisms.
The DXM addiction treatment process involves counseling and cognitive-behavioral therapies to find the root of the addiction. In this process, users re-evaluate their drug use, become aware of the dangers, and become motivated to make better choices in the future. Some rehab centers offer more self-guided treatment options for DXM abuse, such as yoga, music, or art therapies to help patients overcome psychological addiction.
Patients with co-occurring mental health disorders and substance use disorder (SUD) can take full advantage of the therapeutic benefits of rehab. Inpatient or outpatient rehab options are offered for those in need of treatment. The main advantage of inpatient rehab is the removal of outside influences such as friends and family, who may contribute to temptation. Patients will learn how to overcome the desire to use DXM and how to have fun without the psychoactive effects of the drug.
Follow-Up Care for DXM Addiction
After treatment, people in recovery may want to take part in therapeutic follow-up care. Weekly or bi-weekly visits with a therapist or group can allow patients to address the struggles and triumphs following rehab. In a group setting patients are able to connect with people who have the same aspirations, increasing the likelihood that sobriety will stick.
Do You Need Help?
If you or a loved one is struggling with DXM addiction, we’re here to help. Contact our friendly staff today for help finding rehab options and to answer any questions you might have. Recovery is just around the corner. Don’t wait. Call today!