Dextromethorphan: Usage trends
Last modified: Saturday, 30. May 2009 - 3:37 pm
Dextromethorphan abuse has increased in recent years. This has also coincided with an increase in the reports of adverse effects, including rare case reports of overdose and death. Many users have switched to a concentrated, powdered form of the drug instead of the significant volumes of cough syrup that need to be ingested to become intoxicated. This powdered form, called dextromethorphan hydrobromide, is being sold at an increased rate. Furthermore, a relatively simple step-by-step method for obtaining dextromethorphan from cough syrup has been published on the Internet.
Contrary to the effects associated with the Therapeutic use of dextromethorphan, those who abuse the drug report a variety of mind-altering effects such as visual hallucinations, changes in time perception, and an increased sense of perceptual awareness. It has been determined that a small amount of Robitussin can produce intoxication in most persons. Abusers have been found to use anywhere from one-half bottle to three or four bottles of Robitussin every day. Drinking large amounts of Robitussin or other cough syrups tends to cause vomiting.
Dextromethorphan is sold alone or, when mixed with other drugs such as phenylpropanolamine or ephedrine, is marketed as “ecstasy,” after the widely abused street drug. Of course, this formulation is not the same compound as ecstasy. It has also been used to deceive persons who are seeking to buy narcotics such as heroin. The greatest amount of dextromethorphan abuse so far has occurred with the over-the-counter cough formulas. Reportedly, dextromethorphan is also being sold on the Internet in pill and capsule forms as well as the powder.
A recent survey of 315 students in the fourth through twelfth grades who used over-the-counter medications to become intoxicated found that a majority used a medication that contained dextromethorphan. The study found that the risk of abusing dextromethorphan increased with age, and that dextromethorphan has a greater abuse potential than previously identified in scientific literature.
Age, ethnic, and gender trends
Nearly all of the abusers have been reported to be teenagers and young adults. There is no current information on abuse trends among different ethnic groups or among males and females.