Dextromethorphan (also known DXM) is the active ingredient in some OTC cough suppressant medications, such as Robitussin. Little do some people who use this medication know that it can also produce powerful dissociative effects with psychedelic properties not unlike those of ketamine and PCP, which are controlled drugs.
Light dosages range from 75 mg to 200 mg, while a strong dosage is upwards of 400 mg.
In general, for recreational use take 2 mg of DXM for every kg body weight for a mild experience. If you’re looking for a stronger experience, multiply your body weight by 5, while for a very strong experience, multiply it by 10.
For example, I weigh 70 kilograms. I would need to take around 140 mg DXM for a mild experience, 350 mg for a medium strength experience, and 700 mg for a strong “trip.”
Eating grapefruit or drinking its juice may make the “trip” more psychedelic and with less body load. Drink around 16 oz (0.5 L) of grapefruit juice or eat an equivalent amount of grapefruit about one hour before ingesting DXM. This is especially important if you’re using dextromethorphan polistirex, an extended release form of DXM which produces a longer lasting trip that is less psychedelic, weaker, and with more pronounced physical effects.
Do not combine DXM with other drugs and medications, especially with alcohol, MAO inhibitors, painkillers, antihistamines, antidepressants, and stimulants.
It may take up to 2 hours for the effects to come up and they can last between 6-12 hours. The peak is reached 3-6 hours after consuming the drug, while the aftereffects may be experienced for up to 24 hours (or even 36 hours in the case of DXM polistirex), including appetite suppression, euphoria, and a sense of content relaxation and rejuvenation.
The state of consciousness on DXM can be characterized as a bizarre and disorienting delusional hallucinogenic state, involving internal hallucinations (but also external ones in extreme dosages), including auditory and visual hallucinations as well as synaesthesia. Déjà vu, time distortion, and confusion may also be experienced.
When a low dose is taken, the experience tends to be stimulating, while at the higher dosages, dextromethorphan produces a sedating experience. Physical euphoria may be felt along with a sense of lightness in the body to the point of not being able to exert motor control over the body.
Like MDMA, DXM may make you experience a mood lift and an increased sense of empathy and enhancement of emotion and sociability, an increased sense of humor and libido, as well as significant disinhibiton, and suppression of analysis and anxiety. Though for some people the experience is asocial and libido is decreased in higher doses.
Listening to music greatly intensifies the experience and produces strong euphoria.
While lower dosages may involve ego inflation, higher dosages may bring about ego death and other transpersonal and mystical experiences, such as an enhancement of spirituality, existential self-realization, and a sense of unity and interconnectedness. Some people report that DXM promotes self-reflection and personal growth.
Cognitively, DXM may facilitate conceptual thinking. However, in higher doses it may cause thought deceleration, cognitive fatigue, and suppression of motivation, focus, and memory (to the point of amnesia).
Other effects of DXM may include experiences of detachment and dissociation, enhancement of creativity and immersion, and derealization, a sense that the physical world is unreal.
I chose to quote here a couple of experiences that I found especially interesting.
One person took 2 ounces of Robotussin Maximum Strength, containing 177 mg DXM. On this dose, he reported that music “sounded glorious! Every note seemed to reverberate through me, and it seemed to have a hidden dimension that was now revealed to me.” He also experienced a “drunken-stoned-like buzz” and a mood lift that lasted into the next morning. On a different occasion he took 705 mg of DXM. Here are some fragments from his trip report:
I now had the ability to concentrate thought enough to change my surroundings, totally fooling my senses into thinking I was somewhere I was not. I began staring at the wall across from me. I noticed how the paneling (although I didn’t know it was paneling at the time) was in the shape of a window, so I thought it must actually be a window instead of a wall. Just then, the white wall slowly faded into a blackish-blue night sky color, and I could see billions of stars out beyond the now-transformed wall. I resolved that if the only thing I could see from this window were the stars, that I must be somewhere very high up in the night sky. Then I felt as if I was seated at the top of a very tall clear-window elevator. The perception of it seemed absolutely realistic, and the entire room seemed to be equally transformed to this delusion. […] I decided to go to sleep. It felt like it had been about 2 days since I first started. When I closed my eyes, I was still hallucinating. This didn’t bother me, however — I was having a blast. Suddenly, right in the middle of some other hallucination, I noticed I was able to separate myself from my body, and was truly able to view myself from the third person.
Another person tried Robotussin maximum strength cough syrup. He drank 8 oz and reported:
What was even more interesting were the short periods of time (felt like 2 minutes each) where I would float over my own body, in the top corner of the roof and watch my body stare at the wall as my friend would try to talk to me. He would give up, then come back 10 minutes later and try again in vain.
I felt an incredible rush of life escape from my body as my soul was torn from deep within my core. I knew at that euphoric state I was in that I was experiencing death. As my inner being left my body, my identity that I had assumed to be real for so long was ripped from me. I was submerged with this extreme sense of freedom as my soul finally escaped the boundaries of the physical body. Then it came. That transient moment where the universe made complete perfect sense, and I was connected spiritually to all things in life. All concept of time was lost, as the past, present, and future had morphed into one single moment of eternity. Everything opposite suddenly became parallel to each other and joined in unison. I was intoxicated with an incredible surge of overwhelming chaos and peace. I had found life in death, meaning in triviality, sensation in numbness, and an entirely different world in DXM. I had not expected a personal god, but a universal god of some sort emerged from deep within me. I sought an eternal moment, and a dying eternity unfolded before me. It was this unity between my soul and the cosmos that gave me the shocking awareness that this entire time I was a prisoner of the physical world, held captive to the boundaries of the flesh. In both losing myself and finding true existence, I lost my fear of death, as death merely became a passing moment into a higher level of existence. And I had realized all this in less than three Earth seconds. I had not been out of my body more than a few moments when a female deity, who I somehow recognized as being related to me in a past life, approached me. I was blinded with visions of deja-vu; memories of my previous lives and identities came flowing back to me in short frames and waves (though oddly enough I could not remember those lives or identities the second I snapped back to reality). She was both old and young at the same time, and she seemed to be a god of some sort with intentions of protecting me. Concerned with my well-being, she asked me what had happened to “that girl” (referring to me), and I explained that she was no longer. I had transformed into a higher being in an alternate dimension of reality, and “that girl” had merely become another lifeless body. Like all physical things in this world, she was destined to evolve into nonexistence. The deity, the guardian angel, whoever or whatever she was, instructed me to re-enter my body because my time to leave this world had not yet come. At this point, the world I had been previously living in had become so meaningless in retrospect that I did not care to go back. But trusting her character, I obliged and lay back down, whereupon she kissed the breath of life into me, and I immediately opened my eyes.
It’s not that easy to get pure dextromethorphan. If you visit your local pharmacy, you most likely will find DXM products such as capsules, lozenges, and syrups that are often mixed with other substances, such as paracetamol. You want to avoid those.
There are basically three options.
- You can use a product with the least harmful additive.
- You could extract the DXM yourself from the product.
- Get pure DXM.
Let’s take a closer look at these options.
Dextromethorphan additives include paracetamol (acetaminophen), antihistamines, chlorpheniramine, pseudoephedrine, phenylephrine, phenylpropanolamine, and guaifenesin.
All of these additives are highly dangerous in the dosages required for the DXM to affect you. The least dangerous additive which is contained in many syrups, guaifenesin, an expectorant, may cause severe nausea, vomiting, and headaches, but it probably won’t kill you.
So if you cannot find pure DXM at your local pharmacy or don’t want to extract it yourself, your best option would be to get a syrup containing DXM and guaifenesin only as active ingredients. Though in this case, you will probably need to settle for a mild experience in order to avoid vomiting the drug.
I’m not sure that this is legal and I’m not going to get into the details of this process. The main idea is that using a relatively easy chemical process of acid-base extraction, which anyone can perform at home, it is possible to separate DXM from the additives included in commercial products.
As in the first option, a syrup containing DXM and guaifenesin is often used. Ammonia is added first as well as lighter fluid (naphtha). All the “junk” gets absorbed in the ammonia, while the DXM becomes concentrated in the naphtha. In the second step, adding lemon juice makes the dextromethorphan separate from the naphtha.
You can learn about this process which is known as “Agent Lemon” here.
The problem with this option is that not everyone wants to bother with going through this process, even though it’s rather simple.
Buying Pure DXM
The third and final option I’m aware of is to purchase pure DXM from chemical manufacturers. Alternatively, you could purchase a product containing just dextromethorphan as an active ingredient, such as RoboCough.