What It Is: Dextromethorphan (DXM) is an ingredient in many over-the-counter (OTC) cough and cold medicines. Also Called: candy, drank, robo, C-C-C, dex, DM, drex, red devils, rojo, skittles, tussin, velvet, and vitamin d How It's Used: Medicines that have DXM in them come as syrups, capsules, pills, or throat lozenges. But some people extract DXM from cough syrup and make it into a powder or capsule of "pure" DXM. Dextromethorphan-containing products — tablets, capsules, gel caps, lozenges, and syrups — are labeled DM, cough suppressant, or Tuss (or contain "tuss" in the title). What It Does: When people take too much DXM, they might have hallucinations and "out-of-body" sensations. DXM also depresses brain function, particularly the parts of the brain that control breathing and heart function. Taking a lot of DXM causes hallucinations and out-of-body sensations similar to the ones caused by drugs like ketamine and PCP. These effects can last as long as 6 hours. DXM also can make users have trouble controlling their limbs and cause blurred vision, slurred speech, dizziness, and impaired judgment. Other short-term effects include: paranoia and confusion excessive sweating nausea and vomiting (large quantities of cough syrup almost always cause people to throw up) belly pain irregular heartbeat and high blood pressure restlessness dry, itchy skin and facial redness DXM might seem safe since it's sold over the counter. But large quantities can cause dangerous side effects, including loss of consciousness, seizures, brain damage, and death. One particularly dangerous side effect of DXM is hyperthermia — extremely high fever. This is a big problem in hot environments or when DXM users physically exert themselves, like while dancing at a club. High body temperatures can quickly lead to brain damage or a coma. It's possible to overdose on too much DXM, especially if it's in pure powder form. Someone who overdoses may have brain damage or seizures, and might even die. People using cold medicines to get high may not realize they are taking high doses of many drugs, not just DXM. Mixing DXM with other drugs or alcohol increases the likelihood of life-threatening conditions. For instance, combining it with drugs like MDMA increases the risk of hyperthermia and can lead to brain damage, seizures, a coma, and death. Back to Articles Related Articles What You Need to Know About Drugs Drugs are chemicals that change the way a person's body works. Some drugs help you feel better, but drugs also can harm you. Learn more in this article for kids. Read More Talking to Your Child About Drugs Just as you inoculate your kids against illnesses like measles, you can help "immunize" them against drug use by giving them the facts now. Read More Medicines: Using Them Safely Giving kids medicine safely can be complicated. Here's how you can help treat your child's illness while you prevent dangerous reactions. Read More What Medicines Are and What They Do You've taken medicine before. But what is it? Read More Understanding Medicines and What They Do Medicines can cure, stop, or prevent disease; ease symptoms; or help in the diagnosis of illnesses. This article describes different types of medications and offers tips on taking them. Read More Talking to the Pharmacist If your child is sick, you'll probably have many questions to ask your doctor. But have you made a list of questions and concerns to share with your pharmacist? Read More Dealing With Addiction Find out what you can do if you think you or a friend has a drug or alcohol addiction - from recognizing the warning signs to suggestions to help you stay clean. Read More Drugs: What to Know It's not hard to find drugs, and sometimes it may seem like everyone's doing them or wanting you to do them. But there are downsides (and dangers) to taking drugs. Read More Dealing With Peer Pressure Did you ever feel like another kid was trying to get you to do something you didn't want to do? If so, you've felt peer pressure. Find out more in this article for kids. Read More Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor. © 1995-2021 KidsHealth®. All rights reserved. Images provided by The Nemours Foundation, iStock, Getty Images, Veer, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com.