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Robotripping is a slang term used to describe getting intoxicated through the excessive use of dextromethorphan. Dextromethorphan, also called DXM, is an active ingredient that is commonly used in cough medicines. Using medications that contain dextromethorphan as directed can be effective, non-habit forming, and safe. Abusing dextromethorphan (i.e. ingesting large doses), however, can cause severe physical, psychological, and emotional effects. Excessive amounts of DXM can produce similar psychedelic effects to those of ecstasy, PCP, and/ or Ketamine. Dextromethorphan is a hallucinogen. Although some people that abuse DXM may experience mild euphoria, others experience intense paranoia and/ or hallucinations. Robotripping can cause an individual to become dangerously detached from reality, which can result in violent self-harming behaviors and/ or the harming of others. 

How Is DXM Abused?

Dextromethorphan comes in several forms, most frequently in liquid, tablets, or gel caps. Although DXM is a common ingredient in over-the-counter medications, there are many ways an individual can abuse the substance. One example of DXM abuse is when an individual takes larger doses than recommended. Another example of dextromethorphan abuse is when an individual administers the medication differently than intended (i.e. snorting it, injecting it…etc.). Mixing DXM with other substances (i.e. alcohol) of which are recommended to avoid is also a form of DXM abuse. 

Signs and Symptoms

The intensity of robotrips will differ from person to person. Several contributing factors will inform one’s experience (i.e. severity of robotrip, duration…etc.), including an individual’s weight, metabolism, personal health history, and frequency of DXM use. Some of the common signs and symptoms of robotripping, as provided by the Mayo Clinic, include the following examples: 

  • Vivid nightmares
  • Impaired perceptual and cognitive functioning
  • Agitation
  • Dissociation
  • Hallucinations
  • Violent behaviors
  • Delusions 
  • Increased heart rate
  • High blood pressure
  • Nausea 
  • Vomiting
  • Elevated body temperature 

Every person is different and will likely exhibit varied signs of and have a unique combination of symptoms present when robotripping. The effects of DXM have been reported to last a duration from anywhere between two and a half hours to six hours long. 

Side Effects of DXM

There are many potential side effects that can occur as a result of robotripping. Examples of some of the potential side effects that can manifest from robotripping include any combination of the following, as provided by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH):

  • Poor motor control
  • Hyper-excitability
  • Paranoia
  • Anxiety
  • Lack of energy
  • Aggression
  • Stomach pain
  • Slurred speech
  • Extreme panic
  • Vision changes
  • Sweating
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Liver damage
  • Cognitive dysfunction
  • Impaired memory

In extreme situations robotripping can lead to toxic psychosis, and other severe effects. Further side effects can occur when an individual abuses additional substances along with DXM abuse. 

DXM Overdose

An overdose occurs when an individual takes an excessive amount of drugs and/ or alcohol. The threshold amount will vary depending on the individual, but ingesting a toxic amount of drugs and/ or alcohol will overwhelm one’s body and can lead to dangerous consequences. As is true with the habitual abuse of any substance, the longer an individual engages in substance abuse the greater his or her risk is of overdose. The U.S. National Library of Medicine provide signs that can indicate a dextromethorphan overdose, which include the following:

  • Dissociation
  • Seizure
  • Vomiting
  • Severe loss of coordination
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Impaired vision
  • Irregular heart rhythm
  • Coma 
  • Bluish-colored fingernails and/ or lips
  • Drowsiness
  • Muscle twitches
  • Fever
  • Stomach and/ or intestines spasms

If any of the above signs of overdose present in an individual abusing DXM, it is imperative to secure emergency medical attention as soon as possible. 

For Information and Support 

If you are concerned for yourself or a loved one in regards to substance abuse and/ or addiction we recommend reaching out for help as soon as possible. If left untreated, substance abuse can result in long lasting and potentially life-threatening consequences. Keep in mind: you are not alone! There is an entire network of professionals that are available to help and support you and your loved one throughout the recovery process. The earlier you seek support, the sooner your loved one can return to a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life.

Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions regarding our specific program at Haven House Addiction Treatment and/ or general substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment related information. Our highly trained staff is readily available to discuss how we might best be able to help you and your loved one.