COVID-19 is an emerging, rapidly evolving situation.

Get the latest information from CDC ( | NIH Resources | NIDA Resources

Drugs & Health Blog

Cough and Cold Medications: Use Only as Directed

This blog post is archived and is no longer being updated. For the latest content, please visit the main Drugs & Health Blog page.
Sara Bellum

Winter is here and, with it, cold season. To arm themselves, many people purchase over-the-counter drugs, which are those that don’t require a doctor’s prescription. Taken as directed, over-the-counter cold medications like cough syrups are safe and can help relieve annoying cold symptoms that interrupt our lives.

However, some teens are abusing these otherwise safe medications. NIDA scientists refer to this dangerous practice as “robotripping.”

What Is Robotripping?

Named in reference to Robitussin, one of the most common cold medicines, “robotripping” describes the act of abusing cough and cold syrups by taking more than the recommended dose on the label. The active ingredient in cold syrups, Dextromethorphan (DXM), is a drug that suppresses coughing. Like many other medications, when DXM is abused—taken in high doses and for the wrong reasons—the consequences can be extremely dangerous.

Someone who consumes more than the recommended amount of DXM is likely to experience hallucinations or dissociative “out of body” feelings for up to 6 hours. These side effects are similar to the hallucinations people experience when they abuse an illegal drug like PCP.

But feeling detached from your body and hallucinating is just the start. Ingesting more cough syrup than recommended on the label can cause impaired motor function, numbness, nausea, vomiting, increased heart rate and blood pressure, permanent brain damage, and even death. Find out what else NIDA has to say about DXM.

Comments posted to the Drugs & Health Blog are from the general public and may contain inaccurate information. They do not represent the views of NIDA or any other federal government entity.


yeah really we have to have the medicine as directed by the doctor . Its really not to good good sign to have ever cough.

[commercial link removed, per guidelines]

It just is amazing how there are so many things out there that can turn dangerous when abused. The FDA would rather try to ban creatine than some of the stuff that is available to everyone.

[link deleted, per guidelines]

yah its nice one that in cough we have to take medications as directed only you can find more information on
[commercial link removed, per guidelines]

Did you know that someone actually makes a syrup that you drink just to "trip"?

whoah this weblog is magnificent i like studying your articles. Stay up the good work! You realize, a lot of people are searching around for this information, you can help them greatly. [link removed, per guidelines]

I just told my friend that ppl actually use cough syrup to get high and she said that is so stupid.
Oh boy

Add new comment

Current state: Approved
This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.