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I Want a New Drug

by Dan Richards

Dextromethorphan, more than just a cough suppressant.

What would be the motivation behind writing an article on drugs? Or on a new drug -that's not new at all. A drug that is perfectly legal and can be bought in any drugstore, grocery store or deli. A drug that was once known mainly to the drug-user and addict world, but is now spreading out into the general population, especially among the youth. Why? Because information is now widely available, but strangely enough, not as widely available as the drug. What's going on? Why spread the message anymore by publishing an article?

You might be a high school student, or an EMT paramedic. Whoever you are, this next sentence may come as a shock, but you're going to hear it somewhere - and it might as well be from a reasonably informed source that will give as many sides of the story as possible. Here we go... Dextromethorphan (dextro-meth-or-phan) is the active ingredient in many over-the-counter cough suppressants and formulas, and it is also a powerful dissociative and psychedelic drug. Taken at recommended dosages it will calm a cough, but taken at higher dosages results in a "trip" that many say is even more powerful than LSD. That's quite a claim, and it's true.

There is information, and there is information

Information is out there for the picking on the internet. If you're interested in something, it's pretty easy to quickly find sources of material on just about anything. The problem is, there is information that really just scratches the surface -and then there is a broader type of information, often even application specific for any given individual case. Finding out that people can "get off" on cough syrup sounds, well -not that serious. Drink a bottle of Robitussin and have fun. - Wait just a minute. Dextromethorphan hydrobromide, also known as DXM and Dex, is in a drug class known as dissociatives, which is short for dissociative anesthetics. These types of drugs work by disconnecting the brain sensory input from the body. DXM at varying dosages will have markedly different effects.

At lower doses, DXM is similar to alcohol -producing a somewhat carefree attitude. As doses increase, it ceases to be a party drug -and instead, takes on the characteristics of a powerful psychedelic. The trips are characterized by plateaus and can be very heavy, lasting up to 10 hours. At higher doses, DXM rivals LSD in it's ability to alter consciousness, and even surpasses LSD as a more dangerous drug. DXM obviously has it's appeal or it would not be used. On message boards across the internet, reports called "trip tales" are posted regularly by people writing of incredible psycho-spiritual shamanic journeys and life changing experiences. On the other hand, there are also messages of despair from people who are either psychologically addicted or who have had psychotic breaks. The road may be high -but the road is also low.

Danger Will Robinson!

Robitussin The dangers of ingesting DXM are numerous. The most notable would certainly be mixing with other substances. Dangerous side effects and allergic reactions can be caused by mixing DXM with any of the following substances: decongestants, antihistamines, expectorants, analgesics, acetaminophen/paracetamol, alcohol, bromide ions, food coloring and dyes.

Other drugs such as Prozac, Zoloft and other antidepressants can also cause severe adverse reactions. Serotonin syndrome is a recently identified condition that can occur when combining serotonergic drugs which stimulate, or emulate serotonin. DXM releases serotonin, and while it has never been shown to cause serotonin syndrome in it's pure form, it has been shown to be a cause when used in combination with other serotonergics -particularly when combining SSRIs with DXM. Other drugs also include buspirone (BuSpar), MDMA (ecstasy) and other phenethylamines, tryptophan, harmine and harmaline. There can be possible serotonergic hallucinogens when combining LSD, psilocybin, and DMT. What this means in plain English -is, if you're taking any psychoactive medication, and you take DXM -you are running an extremely high risk for all sorts of dangerous and potentially deadly reactions.

Additionally, about 7% of the population have CYP2D6 deficiency. The CYP2D6 enzyme metabolizes DXM -and a deficiency, can result in extreme reactions even at low doses.

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Dan Richards lives in New York City where he tinkers with trying to place his entire recording studio on the internet.

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