Valiant Living Blog

When Cough Syrup Becomes an Addiction

Written by Valiant Living Recovery on Tuesday, November 3rd, 2020

As we head into the cold and flu season, many people stock up on medicine cabinet supplies such as cough syrup. When used as directed, this product is safe for consumption. However, some people develop an addiction that can quickly spiral out of control. Dextromethorphan, which replaced codeine in cough syrups decades ago and works as a cough suppressant, is the ingredient that can produce a high when consumed in large volumes. The National Capital Poison Center reports that approximately 6,000 annual visits to the E.R. result from overdosing on DXM. 

What is Dextromethorphan?

According to the National Institute of Health, Dextromethorphan, or DXM, is a synthetically produced drug found in more than 100 over-the-counter cough and cold medications. DXM can be found in many forms, including syrup, pills, lozenges, and sprays. 

Overdoses of DXM can result in symptoms that include:

  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Insomnia
  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Shallow Breathing
  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations
  • Paranoia
  • Blackouts

The Elevated Risk to Teenagers

Teenagers are especially susceptible to abusing cough syrup because it is legal, affordable, and easily accessible. Many states now require businesses that sell products with DXM to limit sales to customers 18 years of age and older. If a parent finds their child has cough syrup that they did not provide for them, it can be a warning sign. Ingredients for cough and cold medicines can be purchased online, making it imperative that a parent be aware of packages that arrive for their child that seem suspicious. 

When taken in moderation for the common cold or flu, cough syrups offer relief for sufferers. Unfortunately, many people develop an addiction to Dextromethorphan (DXM), which is the key ingredient in many over-the-counter medications for cough-related symptoms. Teenagers run a higher risk than most due to the ease with which they can obtain these products, but many adults also abuse DXM. It’s not uncommon for a person to also abuse other substances alongside it. Valiant Living offers a complex treatment plan for people battling an addiction to DXM. We offer detox, inpatient, outpatient, and other programs that are built to fit your individual needs. Our men-only facilities offer small groups that allow you to begin to put your life back together and return home ready for a sober life. Call us today at (303) 952-5035 to find out how our Denver area program can help you enter sobriety and achieve your goals!