Drug and Alcohol

Robotripping: Meaning, Signs, Side Effects & More

Robotripping is a slang term for DXM abuse. DXM is a common ingredient in OTC cough & flu medication. Learn the risks and signs of DXM abuse.

Robotripping: Meaning, Signs, Side Effects & More

Table of contents

Written by

Brian MooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

Jeremy ArztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

March 16, 2023

The Edge Treatment Center

Everybody likely has a bottle of it in their home.

Dextromethorphan, or DXM, is a common ingredient in many over-the-counter (OTC) cough and flu medications. However, it's also possible to abuse DXM. Abusing and recreationally using DXM-containing drugs is known as Robotripping. This is often a popular form of drug abuse, especially among younger people.

Before we start, it's important to remember drug abuse is a broad term. While most assume drug abuse involves illicit drugs, that's not the case. Drug abuse is using any drug outside of its instructions, such as:

  • Deliberately taking too much of a drug

  • Taking a drug solely for the effects it produces

  • Sharing or using another person's prescription

  • Attempting to obtain large amounts of a drug

Addiction can be defined as a chronic condition with frequent relapses. There's no cure for it, but it can be managed. When people start using, misusing, or abusing any substance over a long period, they develop physical and mental dependence on it. In that case, the drug doses slowly increase, which brings a high risk of overdose.

In such a situation, even if the user tries to stop and withdraw from this affliction, they will experience highly uncomfortable and sometimes painful withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms range from mild effects like vomiting and dizziness to severe reactions like seizures, insomnia, and delusions.

Today, more than 96,700 Americans lose their lives every year due to overdose of drugs. In addition, as many as 37.309 million Americans above 12 have been said to be illegal users of drug substances. This includes all kinds of drugs like street drugs, prescription medication, club drugs, plant-derived products, opioid painkillers, and more.

What Is Robotripping?

Robotripping is a slang term used to describe the practice of getting high on certain OTC cough medications. These cough medications contain dextromethorphan or DXM. This practice of robotripping is also known as skittling and dexing. Some people even call it a poor man’s PCP, as the feeling produced by it is similar.

What is DXM?

DXM, or dextromethorphan, is a formulation in various over-the-counter medications sold in common pharmacies. This ingredient is mainly found in cough, cold and flu-related medication. DXM is a cough suppressant in various forms of meds like syrups, tablets, sprays, lozenges, and more.

The most common drugs where DXM is present are Robitussin, Vicks, Mucinex, and Delsym. It can temporarily alleviate the symptoms of flu, cough, cold, and other similar health problems. Due to a lack of prescription while purchasing them, many people often believe DXM is harmless and nonaddictive. This is far from the truth.

DXM is a synthetic substance usually found with a combination of other medications, such as antihistamines and decongestants. Despite being OTC medication, DXM is chemically similar to the opioid painkiller codeine. However, DXM has only a slight sedative effect and does not cause numbness or analgesia. 

How Does DXM Work?

It might be odd to hear this, but it's unclear why DXM works. Dextromethorphan is a synthetic drug similar to levomethorphan, an opioid. Researchers think dextromethorphan works by affecting opioid receptors in the area of the brain that controls coughing. This is why cough medicines contain DXM. Unlike opioids, DXM isn't a painkiller and doesn't produce any euphoric effects.

In high doses, dextromethorphan acts similarly to PCP and ketamine, which is why people abuse DXM.

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Why is Robotripping Dangerous?

If a person abuses DXM and uses it for recreational purposes rather than the intended one, they will experience various physical and psychological effects. Robotripping can lead to adverse health effects that can be hazardous to one’s health.

Here's why: Robotripping requires a good amount of DXM to get high from. Large doses of DXM can be dangerous Plus, many OTC cough and flu medications also contain ingredients like antihistamines and decongestants that can be harmful in large amounts.

When used in large amounts, DXM produces an effect that is similar to disassociative anesthetics like ketamine and PCP. Robotripping produces euphoric and hallucinogenic effects. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), robotripping is mostly associated with DXM products like Robitussin and Coricidin. These are pretty commonly found OTC medications for temporarily managing cough and cold. 

Robotripping: Dose Plateaus

According to the National Library of Medicine, people who abuse DXM frequently talk about "plateaus" based on how much DXM they took:

First Plateau

The first level or plateau of robotripping involves 100mg to 200mg of DXM. This produces a mildly stimulating effect with mild euphoria.

Second Plateau

Between 200 to 500mg of DXM produces audio and visual sensations. Closed-eye hallucinations may also occur.

Third Plateau

Between 500 to 1000 mg of DXM creates visual and aural effects. Mania, delayed reactions, panic attacks, and dissociation are all effects of this high dose. Dissociation is a feeling of disconnection from the world and your body.

Fourth Plateau

Doses higher than 1000 mg (basically, a wine bottle of cough syrup, or around 33 capsules) cause a complete detachment from reality, delusions, intense hallucinations, and more.

Here are some signs of robotripping. 

Common Signs of Robotripping

Surprisingly, despite being misused and abused by many people, DXM has not been controlled or restricted by any governmental or federal agencies. This is because, generally, DXM-containing products are used for genuine health problems. It's why products containing DXM are available as OTC medications.

There are various street names for DXM, including:

  • Robo

  • Triple C

  • Poor Man's PCP

  • Skittles

  • Dex

If you are concerned that someone close to you might abuse DXM and engage in robotripping, you can look for some obvious signs.

People who do robotripping will exhibit certain symptoms, which are:

  • Loss of interest and unenthusiasm in the hobbies one loved before

  • You can smell medicine from their clothes and body

  • There would be a lack of motor coordination.

  • The medicinal cabinets and cupboards will be empty of cough and cold meds

  • A person Robotripping will not be able to focus on their work or studies

  • They would exhibit slurred speech

  • A sudden change of mood and aggressive nature can also be seen

  • They may experience dizziness and get hallucinations too

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Robotripping: The Symptoms of DXM Abuse

There are various ways in which a person can carry out robotripping and abuse DXM. Most often, people take large drinks of cough syrups for recreational use. But this is a less common form of robotripping. As DXM is also available in tablets and capsule form, it is easy for the user to ingest it in large quantities. There have been a few instances where people snorted it by crushing the pills into powder. This is also done by users who have purchased DXM powder online.

There are various symptoms of robotripping. Mainly, these symptoms are determined by factors like dose, individual’s health, quality, type of DXM, and so on.

Various symptoms of robotripping are:

  • Nausea

  • Unconsciousness

  • High blood pressure

  • Excess sweating

  • Dizziness

  • Rash

  • Involuntary eye movements

  • Slurred speech

  • Lethargy and exhaustion

  • Elevation in body temperature

  • Sudden hyperactivity

  • Slow breathing

  • Itching

  • Irregular heartbeat

  • Hot flashes

  • Seizure

  • Overdose

What Are the Effects of Robotripping?

When an individual takes more DXM-containing meds than recommended, there is a high possibility that they will experience various side effects. These side effects depend on the amount of dose taken by the individual. The effects will be severe if the DXM dose is higher, whereas a lower dose will produce mild side effects. These side effects are:

  • Mild Side Effects: This includes mild stimulation, euphoria, hallucinations, and more. 

  • Dangerous Side Effects: This includes loss of motor coordination, distorted visual perception, out-of-body experience, and more.  

Other side effects also include paranoia, sweating, nausea, vomiting, tiredness, agitation, confusion, sensory changes, slurred speech, high blood pressure, over-excitement, and more. 

Health Risks of Robotripping

It is quite risky to consume excessive DXM. There are various health consequences that can even turn fatal. This is especially the case with high-risk individuals dealing with heart-related problems and those who like combining it with different substances like alcohol or marijuana. 

Some common health risks associated with Robotripping are:

  • Overdose: There are many cases in which people cannot metabolize DXM properly, leading to an overdose. This leads to toxicity and fatal results. 

  • Heatstroke: DXM itself elevates the body temperature, and sometimes robotripping leads to heatstrokes. 

  • Respiratory Problems: DXM is a medicine that affects the central nervous system. It controls your breathing and suppresses the cough. Robotripping can block the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide in our lungs, which is called respiratory depression. When left unchecked and untreated, it can cause respiratory arrest and death. 

  • Liver Damage: Apart from DXM, many cough and cold medications also contain the active ingredient of acetaminophen. Excess acetaminophen can lead to severe liver damage. 

  • Risky Lifestyle: As mentioned before, robotripping can cause hallucinations, agitation, and delirium, leading to dangerous behavior. The out-of-body experience and dissociation can be fatal and accidents and violent behavior can occur. Many people who are robotripped have committed homicides and suicide. 

Signs of DXM Overdose

It's possible to overdose on dextromethorphan while robotripping. Signs of DXM overdose include:

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Hallucinations

  • Rapid heart rate

  • Seizures

  • Lethargy

  • Unsteadiness and dizziness

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How to Recover from Robotripping

One of the most effective ways to deal with robotripping or any drug and alcohol addiction is by seeking help from a drug rehab facility. These centers not only help people deal with immediate problems but also explore and take care of the root cause of the problem.

Drug rehab treatment is the safest and most feasible option for mental health issues or underlying physical health trauma. In addition, robotripping is an easily preventable medicinal abuse. 

Some ways to deal with teenage robotripping are:

  • Creating awareness about robotripping and its ill effects

  • Providing information and clearing doubts regarding the subject

  • Opening about peer pressure

  • Providing a safe space for debating on the subject

  • Being compassionate and serious about robotripping

Want to Leave Robotripping Behind? Contact The Edge Treatment Center

Even OTC drugs can be abused. Robotripping is a dangerous form of drug abuse. If DXM addiction is taking over your life, you need help.

The Edge Treatment Center will help you leave robotripping behind. Our mix of community bonds, cutting-edge addiction medicine, and evidence-based treatment will help you build a new, happy life without substance abuse.

Addiction is a chronic health disorder that needs to be treated thoroughly. Our fully-accredited dual diagnosis facility simultaneously provides treatment for addiction and those suffering from mental health problems. Reach out to The Edge Treatment Center today to learn more.

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