What It Is: Dextromethorphan (DXM) is an ingredient in many over-the-counter (OTC) cough and cold medicines. Sometimes 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 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 Getting Rid of Old Medicines Medicines can cause problems if they get into the water supply or the wrong hands. Find out how to dispose of old or unused meds safely in this article for teens. 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 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 Prescription Drug Abuse There are many downsides to experimenting with prescription drugs. Find out more in this article for teens. Read More Bath Salts Bath salts are powerful stimulant drugs that increase brain and central nervous system activity. Find out how they can affect you in this article for teens. Read More Depressants Taken medically, depressants help people get through problems like anxiety. But when used as a recreational drug, they can cause problems and affect some of the body's vital functions. Find out more. Read More Ketamine Ketamine is a fast-acting and powerful anesthetic that is often used as a date rape drug. Find out more in this article for teens. Read More MDMA (Ecstasy) Find out how the drug Ecstasy can affect someone who uses it. 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.