Substance Use

Dextromethorphan and Alcohol Substance Abuse

gel capsules cold medicine dxm

Table of Contents

Get Help Now

check insurance
Check your insurance by using our Online Form
call us
Talk to someone now.
Call (855) 430-9439

Mixing Alcohol With Dextromethorphan: What Are The Dangers?

People often drink alcohol to relax and have a good time. But what happens when you mix alcohol with dextromethorphan? Dextromethorphan (DXM) is a medication used to suppress coughing. It is found in over-the-counter (OTC) cough medications like Robitussin and is widely available in pharmacies. When it is taken in combination with alcohol, it can produce dangerous side effects that should be avoided.

This article will explore the dangers of mixing alcohol with dextromethorphan and treatment options available at Zinnia Healing for those struggling with addiction.

How does dextromethorphan work?

As a cough suppressant, when dextromethorphan is absorbed into the bloodstream, it binds to receptors in the brain called NMDA receptors. Receptors are proteins that attach to specific molecules and allow them to pass through the cell membrane. These receptors are involved in pain perception, learning, and memory. Dextromethorphan (DXM) binds to these receptors, inhibits their function, and prevents them from sending signals to the brain. This action suppresses the cough reflex.

The popularity of mixing dextromethorphan and alcohol

Dextromethorphan, known as skittles, triple c, or poor mans PCP, is often used with alcohol. This combination is sometimes called “Robo-tripping” or “Skittling.” The popularity of this practice may be because dextromethorphan is easily accessible and inexpensive. Due to this, people who want to experience its psychoactive effects may be more likely to turn to this method of abuse.

What are the dangers of mixing dextromethorphan with alcohol?

While dextromethorphan may benefit those suffering from a cough as an over-the-counter medicine, it can be dangerous when abused. When taken in large doses, dextromethorphan can cause many short-term adverse effects.

Effects of DXM include:

  • Dizziness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of motor coordination
  • Drowsiness and sedation
  • Slurred speech
  • Agitation
  • Anxiety

These effects can be even more dangerous when combined with alcohol in significant dosages. Alcohol is a depressant, and when mixed with dextromethorphan, every symptom of both substances can be amplified. As a result, it is highly advised to avoid mixing these substances no matter what.

Severe cases of alcohol and DXM abuse can involve increased symptoms of both substances, including:


Hallucinations are perceptions that are not real. They can be visual, auditory, olfactory, gustatory, or tactile, and they can be mild, fleeting, or severe, and persistent. Dextromethorphan can cause similar hallucinatory effects to those experienced by ketamine or PCP users.

Hallucinations can be dangerous because they can cause a person to act impulsively and irrationally. For example, a person who is hallucinating may become agitated and hostile, or they may attempt to harm themselves or others.


Paranoia is an irrational fear or suspicion of others. It can cause a person to become isolated and withdrawn, making it difficult to trust others.

Paranoia can disrupt daily life and cause a person to miss work, school, or meaningful social engagements. It can also lead to dangerous behaviors like self-harm or violence.


Delirium is a state of confusion or dissociation caused by many different things, including infection, illness, injury, and substance abuse. Delirious people may have trouble thinking clearly, they may be disoriented, and they may experience an out-of-body sensation.

Delirium or psychosis can be very dangerous because it can lead to accidents and injuries.


Hyperthermia is a condition that occurs when the body overheats. It can be caused by many things, including strenuous activity, hot weather, and certain medications, including dextromethorphan.

Alcohol can increase dextromethorphan’s ability to cause the body to overheat, leading to potentially fatal health problems like heat stroke.

High blood pressure

High blood pressure is a condition that occurs when the force of the blood against the walls of the arteries is too high. Dextromethorphan’s ability to cause high blood pressure may be increased when it is combined with alcohol.


Seizures are sudden changes in the electrical activity of the brain, and they can cause convulsions, loss of consciousness, and death. People who abuse DXM and alcohol together in high doses are at increased risk for seizures.

Developing a dependency on either substance

Regular dextromethorphan or alcohol abuse can weaken the body’s ability to function without them. As the body becomes more tolerant of the substances, more significant amounts are needed to achieve the desired effects. This can lead to addiction and other serious health problems.


A coma is a state of unconsciousness in which a person cannot be awakened. Comas can last for days, weeks, or even longer. The hyperthermia that can result from mixing DXM and alcohol can cause coma or damage to the brain.

The list above is not exhaustive but highlights some more severe dangers of mixing alcohol and dextromethorphan. If you or someone you know is abusing these substances, please get help from a healthcare provider as soon as possible. Zinnia Healing Center offers a variety of programs, services and health information to help people overcome addiction and substance use. Contact us today to learn more.

What are the treatment options for people who abuse this combination of drugs?

If you are struggling with an addiction to alcohol and dextromethorphan, seeking professional help is the best option. Several treatment options can help you overcome your addiction and get your life back on track. Some of these include:

  • Inpatient rehab: This is a residential treatment program where you live at the facility while receiving care. Inpatient rehab offers around-the-clock support and supervision from trained professionals.
  • Outpatient rehab: This is a less intensive type of treatment where you visit a clinic or center for addiction treatment and medical advice several times a week. Outpatient rehab can be helpful for people who cannot commit to inpatient rehab or who need to continue working or attending school while receiving treatment.
  • Support groups: Many support groups are available for people struggling with addiction. These groups provide emotional support and practical advice from people who have been through the same thing.
  • Individual therapy: This type of counseling can help you address the underlying causes of your addiction. Individual therapy can also help you develop healthy coping mechanisms for triggers and cravings.
  • Alternative therapies: Many alternative therapies can be helpful for people struggling with addiction. These include things like yoga, meditation, and acupuncture.

Knowing which treatment provider to start with can be challenging, with many available options. If you’re unsure of what type of treatment is right for you, contact Zinnia Healing Center. We specialize in helping people overcome drug abuse, and our experienced staff can help you find the right treatment plan to fit your needs.

How to avoid withdrawal symptoms when stopping use

If you can stop alcohol and dextromethorphan abuse on your own, you must be aware of the potential for withdrawal symptoms. These can include things like:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue

To avoid these symptoms, it is important to taper off use gradually rather than stopping suddenly. This can help your body adjust to the change and prevent uncomfortable or dangerous side effects. Some ways to preemptively deal with withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Exercise: Exercise can help to improve your mood and alleviate some of the symptoms of withdrawal.
  • Eat a healthy diet: Eating a nutritious diet can help to boost your energy levels and improve your overall health.
  • Get enough sleep: Getting enough sleep is essential for both your physical and mental health.
  • Talk to a therapist: Talking to a therapist can help you deal with any underlying issues contributing to your addiction. They can also provide support and guidance as you navigate the recovery process.

How Zinnia Healing Can Help

If you or someone you love is struggling with an addiction to alcohol and dextromethorphan, Zinnia Healing can help. We offer a variety of treatment options that are customized to meet the needs of each individual and their substance use disorder. Our goal is to help you overcome your addiction and get your life back on track. We believe each patient is unique, with their own needs and goals. We will work with you to create a treatment plan tailored to your specific situation. Contact us today at (855) 430-9439 or visit our site to learn more about how we can help you or your loved one recover from addiction.

Related Articles