Drug and Alcohol

Robotripping: Understanding Everything Related to DXM Abuse

What is robotripping? It might be surprising to hear that over-the-counter drugs can be abused. Learn more about robotripping in our blog.

Robotripping: The Facts About Over The Counter Cough Syrup Abuse

Table of contents

Written by

Brian MooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

Jeremy ArztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

October 18, 2023

The Forge Recovery Center

Imagine a mind-bending journey where reality blurs and the boundaries of the ordinary dissolve into a surreal and otherworldly experience.

Welcome to the world of "Robotripping.” It’s a term that might sound like a psychedelic adventure but in reality is a potentially dangerous path. A seemingly innocent over-the-counter cough syrup holding the power to unlock a world of psychedelic experiences, this supposedly harmless concoction has a dark side that's both mesmerizing and potentially dangerous.

What is Robotripping?

Robotripping is a slang term used to describe abusing cough medication. Other standard terms like skittling and dexing are also used to indicate the same practice. DXM Robotripping, in particular, is used in the context of abusing Dextromethorphan, or DXM.

Dextromethorphan is an active ingredient that contains several cough suppression medications. It is often a part of many painkillers, decongestants, and expectorants like acetaminophen, pseudoephedrine, diphenhydramine, and guaifenesin. DXM is a synthetic cough suppressant that relieves mucus, congestion, watery eyes, and itchy throat. So it is helpful for people suffering from flu and allergy-like symptoms. 

Most medications containing DXM are available over the counter. However, abusing them can lead to mind-altering experiences. Doctors generally recommend that meditation be taken only three to four times daily. The recommended amount is around 15-30 mg, as more than this can lead to side effects.

DXM is not classified under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). This is because DXM is considered safe and does not have a high potential to be abused by people.

But this does not mean that it is not being abused. The United States Drug Enforcement Department (DEA) has reported that DXM medications are easily available nationwide in any drug store and pharmacy. This makes it easily accessible to misuse.  

Most people engaged in DXM abuse prefer DXM-containing tablets and capsules instead of syrup. The reason is the unpleasant and bitter taste of DXM in syrup form. It may sound like a harmless medication, but more and more people have started abusing them to gain marijuana-like after-effects. Robotripping and consuming a large dose of DXM will have signs similar to intoxication.

This includes lack of coordination, slurred speech, confusion, hallucination, and euphoria. Its hallucinogenic effects are very similar to the drugs ketamine and PCP. This is why it is also known as "the poor man's PCP. "

It is important to note that the amount of DXM people take for robotripping is much higher than the doses found in cold and flu medications. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, a single dose of DXM should not exceed 120 mg.

For most people, this breaks down like this:

Syrup and Liquid DXM

  • 10 to 20 mg of DXM every four hours

  • 30 mg of DXM every six to eight hours

Extended-Release DXM

  • 60 mg of DXM every 12 hours

Tablets of DXM

  • 5 mg to 15 mg every one to four hours

At higher doses, users are more likely to experience adverse effects such as hallucinations or impaired judgment which can be dangerous.

In addition, long-term use of DXM is linked to liver and kidney damage, memory loss, and even death. For these reasons, it is important for users to stay within the recommended dosage guidelines and avoid robotripping altogether.

Robotripping: How Does DXM Work?

DXM is a dissociative anesthetic found in many over-the-counter cold, flu, and allergy medications. It works by blocking nerve receptors in the brain that receive signals from the body. This in turn creates a dissociative state in which users experience hallucinations and detachment from reality.

Robotripping carries many risks, including impaired judgment, changes in mood, increased heart rate and blood pressure, nausea and vomiting, anxiety, hallucination, seizure, or coma. Because DXM works on the same receptors as other drugs that can be habit-forming, it is also highly addictive.

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What Does Robotripping Feel Like?

DXM is a hallucinogen that causes different stages or plateaus of intoxication. These stages are dependent on how much a person has taken the drug. Let's discuss each of these plateaus of intoxication in detail. 

Robotripping: First Plateau

The first stage of intoxication is all about a mild-stimulating effect. A DXM dose of 100- to 200-milligram (mg) can produce side effects similar to ecstasy. People at this point will feel more relaxed and have a positive social attitude. They will experience an increase in energy and talkativeness. 

Robotripping: Second Plateau

The dosage of DXM will increase from the plateau mentioned above. The second stage will occur when the DXM dose is 200 to 400 mg. Here, the users will have a similar experience to alcohol intoxication. They are likely to experience decreased cognitive functioning ability and motor coordination. Hallucinations and euphoria can also be part of this phase of intoxication. 

Robotripping: Third Plateau

The third stage can be hectic for many users. This plateau involves a DXM dose of 400 to 600 mg. The users will experience side effects that are similar to ketamine. It is a dangerous phase as it leads to the incapacitation of an individual. People would experience intense hallucinations, disassociation, and loss of motor coordination. 

Robotripping: Fourth Plateau

This plateau involves a high dose of DXM between 500 to 1500 mg. This is where the term poor man's PCP comes into effect as its side effects will resemble that of PCP. The users will find it hard to shake off these effects. These effects will last for a longer time than at any other stage.

Consuming this many doses will cause an individual to have an out-of-body experience. They will be in a trance-like state and can have hallucinations and delirium. Some people also display aggressive and violent behavior. In addition, they will have a lowered sense of pain perception due to the increased dose. 

Is Robotripping Safe?

Dextromethorphan is not a controlled substance because it is legal and considered safe. However, it is classified as a hallucinogen and dissociative general anesthetic at a high dose. Both hallucinogens and dissociative general anesthetics are controlled substances, including PCP and ketamine.

So, concerns about its abuse do exist. DXM is an NMDA receptor antagonist like ketamine, methoxetamine, and phencyclidine. These are classified as dissociative drugs. DXM is not known for producing physical withdrawal symptoms but has been reported for creating psychological dependency. 

There have been a few instances of physical dependency among those users who have abused DXM heavily. Robotripping is unsafe and can lead to substance use disorder (SUD). How? DXM selectively acts as a serotonin reuptake inhibitor. This means that users may have a similar experience to withdrawal from SSRIs. When an individual suddenly stops taking DXM, they may undergo mental and physical withdrawal symptoms.

These withdrawal symptoms can go from depression, anxiety to irritability, intense craving, and tingling sensation. 

What Are Some Robotripping Effects?

Robotripping has various potential side effects. Most of these effects manifest physically and can change from one person to another. It makes no difference what DXM-containing product you are consuming. Higher the dose of DXM, the more intense the effects will be. It is important to note that DXM products can have other active ingredients also. DXM cannot be the only one. Those ingredients will also generate their effects. 

A few side effects of robotripping can be:

Physical Side Effects of Robotripping

Physical side effects of robotripping may include sweating, nausea, high blood pressure, slowed breathing, hot flashes, lethargy, itching, rash, dizziness, slurred speech, increased body temperature, unconscious, involuntary eye movements, and seizure. 

Psychological Side Effects of Robotripping

The psychoactive effects are unpredictable and can vary from one person to another. Some have experienced heightened awareness, delusion, visual distortion, increased aggression, paranoia, and out-of-body feeling. 

Robotripping has become a widespread practice among teenagers. It is consumed widely at rave parties and dance clubs. The irregular but overconsumption of DXM coupled with physical activity like dancing may produce a fever-like feeling. In addition, it can overheat the body temperature leading to fever.

Another thing to note is that DXM should not be combined with energy drinks, coffee, and medication like Adderall. This can result in dangerous interactions. 

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What Are Robotripping Symptoms? 

Robotripping can have severe consequences since it is a hallucinogen. People can experience delusions and paranoia and get into risky situations like accidents, assault, and even suicide. A few symptoms of robotripping and abusing DXM can include the following:

  • Disassociation

  • Nightmares

  • Delusions

  • Agitation

  • Violent behavior

  • Impaired cognitive functioning

Robotripping: What Does a DXM Overdose Look Like?

Overdosing on DXM includes signs like dizziness, vomiting, impaired vision, frothing from the mouth, rapid heartbeat, numbness, breathing problems, convulsions, and coma.  

Is Robotripping the Same as Purple Drank?

No. Purple drank is a mixture of cough syrup containing promethazine (an antihistamine) and codeine, an opioid pain reliever. It’s known by street names like sizzurp, purp, wock, and syrup. Purple drank is a widely consumed beverage in southern states that is said to have originated in Houston.

Unlike cough medications containing DXM, codeine cough syrup is only available via prescription. Codeine works very differently than DXM and is more risky to abuse.

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How to Recover from Robotripping

Robotripping and getting addicted to cough syrup is a severe issue. It should not be overlooked, and swift action should be taken to remedy it. Substance abuse is a big problem in the country, and various treatment options are available to manage the condition. 

The first step in recovery from robotripping is going through medical drug detox.

Drug Detox

Patients tend to go through withdrawal symptoms during this phase of treatment. The commonly experienced withdrawal symptoms are vomiting, nausea, body ache, dizziness, irritability, aggression, depression, and anxiety. Withdrawal symptoms can vary from mild to severe and will depend on the intensity of the addiction.

Detoxing with professional help makes this process much easier.

Treatment Program

The next step of the treatment would involve formulating a treatment program. The medical team and the patient will work together to create an effective and comprehensive program. Patients will have to take a medical examination test and interview where they will be asked questions about their addiction history, family background, co-occurring disorders, and physical and mental health evaluation. 

Treatment programs generally start as soon as the plan becomes finalized. Patients will have to choose between inpatient and outpatient care settings. The patients must strictly follow the programs since any oversight can lead to relapse.

Many behavioral therapies will help the patient understand their addiction. However, patients in recovery have a lot of doubts. All of them get addressed in these counseling sessions. 


Lastly, follow-up treatment is as necessary as the primary treatment plan. These aftercare initiatives aim to strengthen the mission of living a drug-free life. They motivate people to stay on the path of recovery. 

Why Do People Abuse Drugs?

Recreational drugs have a long history of abuse. People have been abusing these drugs to experience psychoactive side effects for enjoyment rather than for medical purposes. People get addicted to these psychoactive drugs because they induce mind-altering and intoxicating feelings.

Recreational drugs are generally in the form of chemical substances like amphetamine, amyl nitrates, cocaine, cannabis, ecstasy (MDMA), ketamine, heroin, and magic mushrooms. Alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine are also classified under recreational drugs only. The biggest problem with using these substances is that, first, they are illegal, and second, they can lead to various health complications.

Many people use different ways to get high. There are various options available in today's time. People like to misuse substances like prescription medication to illegal drugs. The primary purpose is recreational use and to achieve the desired euphoria.

Some people abuse medication because of some physical trauma they can't cope with. So they use painkillers and other medication to alleviate the painful symptoms with the help of overusing addictive drugs. These people also get drug dependent within no time. Some people also struggle with mental health issues and use drugs to cope. It is best to seek medical help if anyone close to you shows signs and symptoms of addiction. 

Feel Like You (or a Loved One) are Losing Control of Robotripping? Reach out to The Forge Recovery Center

Robotripping, while not as harmful as other forms of drug abuse, can still cause serious harm to a person’s life. DXM abuse can cause harm to a person’s mind and body and create the same cycle of harmful behavior other forms of drug use cause.

Many times, people are drawn to drugs like DXM because they feel alone and hopeless. They’re not. At The Forge Recovery Center, we use evidence-based, effective treatment to change people’s behaviors and fully address their mental health needs. Guided by a trauma-informed philosophy, we’ve created a serene, welcoming environment where the emotional and mental roots of addiction can be safely explored, addressed, and treated.

Robotripping can deny a person the life they really want. At The Forge, we’ll help you reach your true potential and live the full, happy life you or a loved one deserve. If you’d like to learn more about our effective drug abuse treatment programs, contact The Forge Recovery Center now.

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