Citation: Stropharia. "Seven Years: An Experience with DXM (exp21295)". Erowid.org. Feb 13, 2003. erowid.org/exp/21295
Seven years of DXM
This is a fairly long experience report, but to give a half-way complete account of my relationship with DXM would mean telling my life story for the past seven years.
I discovered DXM in my second year of university, from William White's DXM FAQ. I had had very little experience of drugs prior to this; nothing but alcohol, occasional tobacco, and lots of caffeine. Vancouver, my home town, is a pot-loving city, but I wasn't into that. However, I had been interested in altered states since my early teens and felt eager to experiment with DXM.
Another reason for this first trip was having taken a psychology course entitled 'Drugs and Behaviour' which opened my mind to the fascinating world of mind-altering substances. This has been a strong interest of mine ever since, and there is no end to what I can learn. It brings together chemistry, biology, psychology, religion, arts, history, culture, botany, and politics. How many areas of study branch out so fruitfully? There is enough here for lifetimes of learning.
I started off with 180 mg of Robitussin DM, 3 mg for each of my 60 kg. I didn't know it at the time, but this was the first of several hundred DXM experiences.
The doses I took slowly ramped up from about 250 mg at first to as much as 750 mg in an evening. I usually didn't take it all at once, instead sipping it slowly, spreading the intoxication over a longer period. Sometimes I would take it two or three days in a row, despite the empty and drained feeling that this left me with.
For the last two years of university, and six months after that, I consumed about five 250ml bottles of cough syrup per week. Each bottle was 3 mg/ml, 750 mg in total, or 12 mg/kg. My highest-ever dose was 1200 mg, or 20 mg/kg; the limiting factor was the uncomfortable inability to urinate that high doses produce.
It didn't seem to lower my academic performance: I had messed up badly in my first year, and I made strenuous efforts to improve my grades. In the third and fourth years I got mostly As, with a few Bs. Some of my projects were based entirely on my experiences with DXM -- for example, a paper on dissociative anaesthetics and out-of-body experiences for a directed studies course. Got top marks for that one. Several of my papers, some of my best, were written under the influence of DXM. I never tried to memorize under the influence.
It made my mood rather volatile. After 36 hours without sleep (just try to sleep after ingesting 750 mg of DXM!) I would be tired and grouchy, my eyes red and droopy. I would then sleep for about 16 hours, punctuated with vivid dreams as I made up the REM deficit. Someone has said that 'opium is a season', and this was true of DXM. It dictated the rhythm of life -- the sober periods, the periods of sedation, stimulation, euphoria, bizarreness, sleeping it off, recovery, withdrawal, temptation, on and on. Every moment was conditioned by the state of my relationship to DXM.
Even now I am not sure whether my parents were aware. Very few people seemed able to tell that I was high. If they could, they weren't saying. My sister knew, sometimes. There was a secretary at university who could ALWAYS tell. My strange sleeping patterns could be explained by computer use: university dialup modem time was unregulated midnight to 7 AM, so I was always online between midnight and 4 in the morning. I taught myself Linux and C in these late-night DXM-fueled sessions; these skills are currently the source of my income.
After I finished university, my consumption increased slightly. I had no motivation. I was living at home, very comfortably, and I just couldn't be bothered to look for a job. My parents didn't pressure me. Finally, after a night lying awake in the tail of a DXM trip, I decided to take drastic action -- to move to the UK and find a path there.
So that's what I did. After a bit of floundering around, I landed a reasonable job. And stopped taking DXM: it isn't nearly so available as in Canada. There were some withdrawal symptoms, but nothing severe.
Then, for various reasons, I moved back to Canada -- only to fall into the same DXM usage pattern. It was so amotivational that I had to get away, and moved back here to the UK after fifteen months of accomplishing virtually nothing. It could be said that my propensity to DXM addiction has dictated the country in which I live.
Currently it's almost exactly one year since last taking DXM. The last 'binge' was from fourteen bottles that I brought back from a week-long visit to my parents. But my usage had moderated: instead of drinking a whole bottle in one night, I would drink a third of it. I will be returning to Canada for my sister's wedding next August, and I will probably accumulate a stash for my return to the UK. I may attend the ceremony under the influence, justifying it as an anxiolytic and social lubricant. But I think I will avoid excess.
It doesn't seem to have affected my health or mental ability. I work at an intellectually demanding job, and my performance is good. I think my mind is livelier than it was five or ten years ago, and that my ability to solve problems has improved. I'm not saying that DXM has improved my intellect -- it is most likely attributable to voracious reading and the continual problem-solving practice I get at work. If I worry about having reduced my mental capacity, I remind myself that I failed calculus and French before ever hearing of DXM!
Because DXM is cheap, legal, pure, and well-regulated, I avoided the worst aspects of illicit drug addiction. I retained my health and social status and did not compromise myself ethically. The problem with DXM addiction for me was firstly the vast amount of time that it soaked up, and secondly the demotivation that it caused.
I say I did not compromise myself ethically. Not entirely true: I drove under the influence. This was irresponsible and I do not attempt to defend it. However, the only times people commented that I was a good driver was when I was under the influence. Moderate doses reduced my reaction time. I measured this once with a computer program I wrote; it was about a 10% reduction. Or perhaps I appeared to be a better driver in this state because I was calmer than usual (i.e. oblivious to danger).
Over time, the character of my trips altered. My first high-dose trips were ethereal, bizarre, and confusing. There were peculiar visual effects, distortions of time, changes in body image, all the expected dissociative effects. After a year or two these were greatly attenuated. There would be euphoria and a feeling of infinite comfort and calm. Nothing disturbed me and everything felt good. On my first 750 mg trip I hardly knew which way was up, or the difference between my hands and my feet, or even how many hands I had. If I took that much today I could walk down the street and do my shopping with only a little difficulty.
This is tolerance -- but only to some effects. If I take 180 mg now, I get about the same experience as I did the first time. It's only the high-dose weirdness that went away.
I have never found anything to be so addictive. Not alcohol, not nicotine, nothing. My DXM experience has warned me off trying ketamine, opiates, cocaine, or speed -- I think I could quickly be sucked in to a destructive habit. Especially with ketamine. I am very lucky to have discovered my propensity to addiction via DXM and not something worse.
Here are a few combinations I tried:
Nicotine: Surprisingly, DXM doesn't normally make smoking any easier. I'm just as likely to cough from inhaling a cloud of tobacco smoke when on DXM as when I'm not. The only way to numb the throat with DXM is to drink a bottle in the evening, then drink some more the next morning. This produces considerable (and dangerous!) analgesia which allows me to smoke far more intensely than normal -- but I never wanted to. Why? Partly because it's bad for me. But also because nicotine on top of DXM sends me into a strange 'empty' state that lasts for about ten minutes. I retain consciousness, but my mind is empty. No thought, no images. Spooky.
Marijuana: Hardly ever smoked pot. It seemed to make a DXM trip more intense, but didn't fundamentally alter the character.
Diphenhydramine: Very interesting combination, the body-lightness of the DXM combined with the heaviness of diphenhydramine. They don't cancel out; both are felt at once. It feels a little like walking through jello. The extrapyramidal motor disturbances are a nuisance, though.
Alcohol: Seems to be additive, not synergistic. Not an exciting combination, especially if you are susceptible to nausea.
Caffeine: Reduced the subjective intensity of the trip.
1. I ignore what it says in the DXM FAQ about re-dosing not working. It works fine for me.
2. The nausea goes away after a while for me. At first I would throw up from 100 ml of Robitussin DM (which contains guaifenesin). After about a year I could drink as much as 350 ml without a trace of nausea.
3. I and many other people have become addicted to DXM. This simple fact should be reflected upon. I would not recommend putting myself into a position of downing a liter of cough syrup each week. I would rather have not chosen to have it dominate my life. Watch out - it seduced me. I always had supremely rational justification for each and every dose. There is always a justification: 'I'm trying it a new way', 'I'm doing research for my paper', 'I need the stimulation to be social with my friends', 'I need to stay up to finish this paper/program/whatever', 'I want to see what this new CD sounds like with DXM'. I would forever find myself rationalizing yet I knew the real reason why I was doing it.
4. I avoid syrups sweetened with sorbitol. In Canada, I avoided the London Drugs own-brand syrup. Sure, it's a bargain at $4.98 Cdn, but I could never stray too far from the toilet. Walmart's own-brand ('Equate') is much better, and only costs a dollar more. Robitussin DM is the Moet & Chandon of syrups, with a taste I learned to like and a price to match (usually about $10 Cdn). These are Jan 2002 observations. Prices and syrup compositions may have changed since.
5. Reading while on a high dose of DXM can be difficult. I close one eye and hold whatever it is I am trying to read real close.
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