DXM Effects and Robotripping

Known for its ability to cause hallucinations and dissociation, DXM’s psychoactive effects has to led to its underground popularity for people seeking a recreational high. However, DXM misuse can have serious physical and psychological consequences, and it’s important for people to understand the risks associated with DXM misuse. 

This page will explain what DXM is, the effects and risks of DXM drug misuse, and how to get help if you or a loved one is struggling with addiction.

What is DXM?

Dextromethorphan, which sometimes is referred to as DXM or DM, is an over-the-counter medication that can temporarily alleviate coughing due to a cold, flu, or other ailments. Dextromethorphan belongs to the medication class known as antitussives. It is available alone or in combination products with other medications such as antihistamines and decongestants. Some dextromethorphan-only products include Delsym, Robitussin 12 Hour Cough Relief, and Vicks DayQuil Cough. Several brands (e.g. Mucinex, Tylenol, Sudafed, Theraflu, Vicks, and Robitussin) have multiple products that contain dextromethorphan combined with various other medications.

Misuse of DXM is sometimes referred to as “robo-tripping” or “skittling.” There are a number of other street names associated with dextromethorphan, including:

  • Dex.
  • Skittles.
  • Robo.
  • Triple C.
  • Poor man’s PCP.

How Does Dextromethorphan Work?

Dextromethorphan is a synthetic drug that is a D-isomer of levomethorphan, an opioid analgesic. It is thought that dextromethorphan may work in the medullary cough center by triggering sigma opioid receptors. Although related to other opioids, dextromethorphan does not produce analgesia and has little sedative effect.

Dextromethorphan’s main metabolite functions as an antagonist for the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NDMA) receptor, so, in high doses, DXM’s effects are similar to drugs like ketamine and phencyclidine (PCP). Dextromethorphan is often abused for its euphoric and hallucinogenic effects.

Dextromethorphan is available in various oral formulations. Dosing for both syrup and liquid formulations is either 10 to 20 mg every 4 hours or 30 mg every 6 to 8 hours. For extended-release dextromethorphan, 60 mg can be taken every 12 hours. Dosing for both oral strip and oral gel formulations is 30 mg every 6 to 8 hours. For the lozenges, 5 to 15 mg can be taken every 1 to 4 hours. Regardless of formulation, an adult should never take more than 120 mg of dextromethorphan in a day, and maximum daily doses are even lower for some children.

DXM Effects

Dextromethorphan’s medicinal effects typically begin after 15 and 30 minutes, reach their maximum around 2 to 3 hours, and end at or before 6 hours. Like any medication, there are potential side effects, including:

  • Constipation.
  • Drowsiness.
  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Dizziness.
  • Sedation.
  • Nervousness
  • Confusion.

What Is Robotripping?

When individuals use Robitussin to get high, or otherwise misuse DXM to experience the hallucinations, dissociation, or other euphoric effects of excessive amount of DXM, it is referred to as “robotripping.”

Signs of Robotripping

The DEA reports that dextromethorphan abuse spans all ages but is especially concerning in teenagers and young adults. According to one study, among reviewed cases of dextromethorphan abuse reported to the California Poison Control System (CPCS), 74.5% involved 9- to 17-year-olds and the median age was 16 years old.

Signs that suggest that an individual may be suffering from a substance use disorder include:

  • Using the drug more or in larger amounts than intended.
  • Spending a lot of time obtaining, using, or recovering from the drug.
  • Craving the drug.
  • Doing risky activities to obtain the drug and/or while under the influence of the drug.
  • Continuing drug use despite significant consequences, such as trouble with relationships or health problems.
  • Having trouble fulfilling important responsibilities at school, work, or home due to regular drug use.
  • Stopping or decreasing other activities because of drug use.
  • Experiencing tolerance and/or withdrawal.
  • Unsuccessfully trying to stop drug use.

Signs of dextromethorphan misuse may include:

  • Purchasing large amounts of the drug.
  • Using dextromethorphan in significantly higher amounts or significantly more often than directed by the label.
  • Using dextromethorphan in the absence of a cough or using combination products in the absence of indicated conditions.

Signs of Dextromethorphan Overdose

Individuals who take more than recommended amounts of the drug are at risk of overdosing. Signs that an individual may have overdosed on DXM include the following:

  • Unsteadiness.
  • Dizziness.
  • Nausea/vomiting.
  • Rapid heartbeat.
  • Trouble breathing.
  • Vision changes.
  • Hallucinations.
  • Lethargy.
  • Seizures.
  • Coma.

Individuals who take excessive doses of combination products containing dextromethorphan may also overdose on the other medication(s) in the product as well as DXM or even before they would overdose on DXM. If you think that you or someone else may have overdosed on dextromethorphan or another medication, call the poison control helpline at 1-800-222-1222 or call 911. In an emergency, always call 911.

Dextromethorphan overdose is mainly treated with supportive care. Use of activated charcoal may be beneficial by binding dextromethorphan and its primary metabolite.

Treatment for Robitussin Misuse

Addiction is a chronic, but treatable disease. If you or someone you love is struggling with a substance use disorder–whether that involves dextromethorphan, other drugs, or both–there is effective patient-centric addiction-focused healthcare that can get you on the road to recovery.

Contact our helpful and knowledgeable admissions navigators 24/7 at to learn more about our different levels of addiction care and to discuss your treatment options. Our navigators are on hand to answer any of your questions about our center, including our features and amenities and what you can expect, and help you begin the admissions process.



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