Detromethorphan (DXM) is an agent found in many over-the-count cough syrups and cold medications, making it extremely easy to access. It is an anesthetic with dissociative properties…
Detromethorphan (DXM) is an agent found in many over-the-count cough syrups and cold medications, making it extremely easy to access. It is an anesthetic with dissociative properties – meaning that it alters a person’s sensory perception and creates a feeling of detachment from their surroundings. This creates an effect similar to PCP or ketamine, and is shares some similarities with codeine as well. What makes DXM more dangerous, however, is how easy it is to get a hold of, especially for young adults and teenagers.
When abused, DXM produces many side effects, such as vivid hallucinations and a feeling of extreme euphoria. Further, it is often combined with alcohol or marijuana to enhance the effects, which also makes the drug more dangerous.
Plateaus of DXM
DXM has five “plateaus” or stages that correlate with the amount of the drug consumed, as well as the anticipated effects. The five plateaus are as follows:
1: 1.5-2.5 Mg/Kg
Effects at this level are euphoria, loss of balance, restlessness, intensification of emotions, increased heartbeat and alertness, and a higher body temperature.
2: 2.5-7.5 Mg/Kg
This stage includes all the effects from stage one, but with an added feeling of detachment from the external world, closed-eye hallucinations, and a dreamlike state of consciousness.
3: 7.5-15 Mg/Kg
This stage is characterized by almost complete loss of motor control, inability to comprehend language, chaotic blindness, feelings of rebirth, vivid hallucinations, and delayed reaction time.
4: 15 Mg/Kg Or More
Effects at this stage may include an intensification of the effects from the previous plateau, as well as changes in visual perception, lack of movement and a lack of desire to move, loss of contact and control with their body, and “interactions” with higher-level beings.
5: 2.5-7.5 Mg/Kg Every Three Hours For 9-12 Hours
This plateau exists by prolonging the dosage. This stage is often described as unpleasant, as the user is overwhelmed with auditory hallucinations and psychosis.
Unlike many other hallucinogenic drugs, DXM is not considered to be a physically addictive drug. It is, however, very psychologically addictive. This perhaps is due to the accessibility of the drug; to get high, all one has to do is walk to the nearest drug store and pick up a bottle of cough syrup. Further, the dreamlike state that some experience after abusing DXM can be psychologically rewarding, especially for those suffering from severe chronic depression or anxiety, or someone who recently experienced a traumatic event.
This does not make the drug any less physically dangerous, though. Many cases of DXM abuse have ended up with individuals in the emergency room. Moreover, DXM tolerance comes very quickly to frequent users, requiring them to take more of the drug to obtain the same effects. For day-to-day users, withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, amnesia, and psychosis can also develop following the cessation of drug consumption.
Even when one stops using DXM to get high, some of the unpleasant side effects can last for the rest of one’s life, as frequent abuse of the drug can lead to permanent brain damage and memory loss. There are not any pharmacological treatments that are able to help with DXM dependency however in an overdose situation, Naloxone is believed to be an antidote.