Dextromethorphan Abuse and Addiction Treatment Options
Cough syrups have been around for a very long time. In the 1800s, they were made with opium and other narcotics. In 1958, dextromethorphan (a.k.a DXM) received FDA approval and was marketed as an over-the-counter (OTC) cough suppressant, and it is now the active ingredient in over 100 OTC cough and cold medications. DXM is also found in prescription medications that treat depression, strokes, seizures, and more.
Dextromethorphan is a safe, effective cough suppressant when used as directed. However, DXM abuse is a growing problem among teens and young adults. When taken in high doses, DXM can produce mind-altering effects similar to PCP or ketamine. These effects include hallucinations, dissociation, and euphoria. DXM abuse can also lead to serious health problems, including brain damage, organ failure, and death.
If you or someone you know is abusing DXM, get help immediately. Many resources are available to those struggling with addiction, and recovery is possible with the proper treatment and support. Contact Zinnia Health today for more information about treatment options for overcoming DXM addiction and abuse.
What Is Dextromethorphan (DXM)?
Dextromethorphan (DXM) is a safe, readily available over-the-counter cough suppressant found in many cold and flu medications. While DXM is an opioid, it does not affect pain receptors.
DXM is a legal drug that can be purchased without a prescription and has surpassed codeine as the most popular cough suppressant because of its accessibility, efficacy, and safety profile at therapeutic dosages.
With the ease of access to this drug, dextromethorphan abuse is on the rise and should not be taken lightly.
How Does DXM Work?
DXM is produced from levorphanol, a strong narcotic analgesic. Dextromethorphan shares many similarities with levorphanol in chemical structure and pharmacological effects. Dextromethorphan is a safe, effective antitussive medication at recommended doses for cough suppression. This works because DXM is a non-competitive N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonist.
This means it prevents cough by suppressing the central nervous system’s cough reflex center located in the brainstem’s medulla oblongata. This area is responsible for sending signals to the muscles that produce coughing.
By blocking these NMDA receptors, DXM prevents the cough reflex center from being activated and reduces the number of times you feel the urge to cough.
What Are the Health Benefits of Dextromethorphan?
While dextromethorphan is most commonly known as a cough suppressant, it also has other potential health benefits. When used at therapeutic doses, DXM has shown to be effective in the treatment of various conditions for the following:
DXM has immediate antidepressant effects and is shown to be as effective as ketamine in treating a major depressive disorder.
DXM has improved neurological and psychiatric symptoms in patients suffering from a stroke.
DXM has shown to be an effective anticonvulsant medication used to treat various types of seizures.
4. Traumatic Brain Injury
Due to its activity in NMDA, DXM has shown promise in treating traumatic brain injury.
Like other NMDA antagonists, DXM has shown effective in treating pain.
How Long Does It Take for the Effects of DXM to Kick In?
Typically, the effects last anywhere from four to six hours, sometimes up to eight hours. The effects will depend on the individual, and many factors come into play. The outcome of DXM substance use is often determined by:
- The amount consumed
- Whether it was mixed with other active ingredients
- The person’s body weight
- The person’s metabolism
- Whether the person has eaten anything recently
Effects of DXM Abuse
While dextromethorphan is a typically safe, effective drug when used as directed, DXM abuse is a growing problem among teens and young adults. Drug abuse is common in cough medicines because they are inexpensive and easy to access.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), some effects of DXM misuse can include:
- Low energy levels
- Impaired vision
- Slurred speech
- High blood pressure
- Stomach aches
- Lack of motor control
DXM Doses and Side Effects
Robotripping, skittles, triple c, and the red devil are street names used to describe DXM’s recreational abuse. Different levels of substance abuse can be compared to other drugs and opioids in terms of their effect on the body.
The recommended dose for safe DXM consumption is between 30-120 mg. This is considered a low to moderate dose that should result in mild changes in perception. DXM is said to be the most effective in cough medications at these doses without leading to additional health risks. However, higher doses open the door to a world of potential health hazards.
Here are the different tiers and the side effects of excessive DXM use.
1. 1st Plateau
Effects can include:
- Increased energy levels
- Feeling more social
2. 2nd Plateau
The second plateau is said to occur from consuming 200-400 milligrams of DXM. The effects are more intense and can cause visual and auditory hallucinations. These are typically associated with the feeling of alcohol intoxication. Some other effects include:
- Decreased motor functions
3. 3rd Plateau
The third plateau typically occurs from consuming 400-600 milligrams of DXM. The effects of DXM at this level are more intense and can cause out-of-body experiences. Other effects include:
- Severe dissociation
- High level of motor coordination loss
- Extreme hallucinations
4. 4th Plateau
The fourth stage involves exceptionally high doses of DXM and can result in coma or death. This stage typically occurs when consuming 500-1500 mg of DXM and can lead to effects similar to those of PCP.
5. Lethal Dose
A lethal dose of DXM is considered to be around 1500 milligrams. This amount can cause organ failure and death.
What Happens When You Mix DXM With Other Drugs or Alcohol?
One of the most significant risks associated with DXM abuse is the potential for overdose. Since DXM is typically used to treat cold or flu-like symptoms, it is often mixed with other medications unintentionally.
When mixed in medications that contain acetaminophen, the combination can lead to serious health issues, including:
- Liver damage
- Kidney damage
When taken in large doses, DXM can slow down the central nervous system to the point where it stops working altogether, leading to respiratory failure and death. Mixing DXM with other drugs or alcohol can increase the risk of overdosing as it amplifies the effects of both substances.
Even mixing small doses of dextromethorphan can lead to psychoactive effects. When taken with alcohol, DXM can intensify the effects of both substances and lead to blackouts and vomiting. Mixing DXM with other drugs, such as marijuana, can also intensify the effects of both substances.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms Someone Is Abusing DXM?
It can often be challenging to determine if someone is experiencing DXM addiction or abuse. The effects on the body are similar to that of alcohol and other drugs, and it can be difficult to tell if someone is intoxicated with DXM or another substance.
However, there are some signs and symptoms that may indicate that someone is abusing dextromethorphan:
- Slurred speech
- Loss of motor coordination
- Organ failure
If you notice continual abuse of DXM or any of the signs and symptoms listed above, it is essential to seek professional help. Zinnia Health is a treatment center with experience helping people recover from DXM addiction.
What Are the Addiction Treatments for Dextromethorphan Abuse?
For anyone seeking DXM addiction treatment, there are many treatment options available.
1. Admission Process
The first step in treatment will be admittance into the treatment program. In this stage, we will ask you questions about your drug use, medical history, and other vital information to help us create a treatment plan specifically for you.
2. Insurance and Financial Assistance
The second step is to verify your insurance and determine what type of financial assistance may be available to you. We will work with you to ensure you can afford the treatment you need.
At Zinnia Health, we believe that everyone deserves access to quality addiction treatment. Our team of experts will work with you and your family to ensure you have the best chance at recovery.
After admittance, the next step in treatment is detoxification. This is when your body removes all the toxins from the DXM abuse. This can either be done through a medically-supervised detox program or outpatient. Drugs or opiate treatments are typically not used to detox from DXM. However, it is an option in extreme cases.
During detox, some common symptoms are expected. Some common symptoms include:
- Flu-like symptoms
- Excessive sweating
These symptoms are all typical and will pass with time. It is essential to stay in treatment during this time so that you can be monitored and supported through the detox process.
The third step in the recovery process is rehabilitation.
This can take place in two ways, either an inpatient program or an outpatient program.
An inpatient program is when you stay at the treatment facility for a set period, usually 21-60 days. During this time, you will receive around-the-clock care and support from our team of addiction specialists.
An outpatient program is when you live at home or in a sober living facility and come to the treatment center for treatments and therapies during the day. This option is typically for people with a strong support system at home and not at risk of relapse.
Both inpatient and outpatient programs offer different therapies and treatments designed to help you recover from DXM addiction.
After you have completed the rehabilitation program, the next step is aftercare. Aftercare is when you continue to receive support and care even after you have completed treatment. This can include 12-step programs, sober living facilities, and outpatient therapy.
Zinnia Health offers all these services to help you recover from DXM addiction. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Different Rehab Treatments for DXM Abuse
There are many rehab treatment options available at Zinnia Health rehab facility. Here are some of the different treatments we offer:
1. One-on-One Therapy
One-on-one therapy is when you meet with a therapist one-on-one to talk about your addiction and recovery. Talking to a therapist can be very beneficial in helping you understand your addiction and develop a recovery plan.
2. Group Therapy
Group therapy is when you meet with a group of people who are also in recovery to talk about your experiences and support each other. Often, going through a challenging time with a support group where everyone is going through the same thing can be very beneficial.
3. Family Therapy
Family therapy is when you meet with your family and loved ones to discuss your addiction and how it has affected them. This can help repair relationships and improve communication.
4. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
CBT helps change your thoughts about addiction and recovery. CBT works by helping you identify negative thought patterns and replacing them with positive ones.
5. Dialectical Behavior Therapy
DBT helps you manage your emotions. DBT works by teaching you how to control your emotions and cope with difficult situations healthily.
6. Experiential Therapy
Experiential therapy uses experiential techniques to help you heal from your addiction. Experiential therapy can include art therapy, music therapy, and adventure therapy.
Relapse Prevention for DXM Addiction
One of the most important things to remember in recovery is that relapse can happen. It’s essential to have a solid relapse prevention plan in place so that if it does happen, you know how to deal with it.
Here are some tips for preventing relapse:
1. Identify Your Triggers
A trigger is anything that causes you to crave or use DXM. It’s essential to identify your triggers so that you can avoid them.
2. Develop a Support System
A support system is a group of people you can rely on for help and support. Having a strong support system is essential in recovery.
3. Attend 12-step Meetings
12-step meetings are group sessions (AA, NA, Refuge Recovery) where you can share your experiences with addiction and recovery with others. These meetings can provide you with support and motivation.
4. Practice Self-Care
Self-care is essential in recovery. Make sure to take care of yourself emotionally and physically. This can include exercise, eating a healthy diet, and getting enough sleep.
Get Help for DXM Addiction Today
Zinnia Health offers different therapies to help you recover from DXM addiction. While addiction can be a difficult journey, there is hope for recovery.
If you or someone you know is struggling with DXM addiction, please don’t hesitate to contact us, and we can help you start your healing journey today.