DXM Can Kill

If a person abuses DXM in a warm or hot environment, they may overheat badly enough to cause their death. DXM may be abused in a dance club or at a rave, where a hot environment plus dancing could pose a real threat to a person’s life. Some people at a dance venue will mix DXM with Ecstasy (MDMA) which increases the overheating threat.

Most DXM formulas contain significant amounts of other drugs that can add to the harm done by the drug abuse.

  • Guiafenesin is an expectorant. It is added to cough medication to help a person clear his chest of congestion. If a person abuses a DXM product that also has guiafenesin, he is likely to get nauseated and vomit. Some people abusing DXM prefer Zicam Max because is has a strong dosage of DXM and no guaifenesin.
  • Many formulas also contain pseudoephedrine, a precursor drug sought by those who wish to cook up methamphetamine. When abused as part of a cough medication, it adds little to the high of DXM. But there is evidence that abuse of pseudoephedrine can cause a heart attack and resultant damage, even in healthy individuals. In a cough syrup, pseudoephedrine is an decongestant.
  • Some formulas contain acetaminophen, which causes liver damage when high dosages are consumed. Acetaminophen is the pain reliever found in Tylenol.
  • Chlorpheniramine can cause increased heart rate, loss of coordination, seizures and coma. It is an antihistamine.

Some people who abuse dextromethorphan mix this drug with others such as other medications, alcohol or illicit drugs. The combined effects of these drugs can kill more quickly than abuse of DXM alone. But a person abusing DXM may die in an accident caused by inaccurate perceptions resulting from the drug. For example, one young man who had been abusing DXM was killed when he tried to cross the street. After investigation, it was decided that he was not able to accurately judge the distance and speed of cars because of the drug abuse.

Some years, three-quarters of the calls to poison control centers about DXM abuse concern teenagers. Between 2004 and 2010, the number of emergency room visits related to DXM overdoses increased 70%.

Real stories of DXM abuse have been compiled by the Partnership at Drugfree.org and can be found at http://www.dxmstories.org.

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