Citation: Bill. "Novocaine for the Brain: An Experience with DXM (exp77362)". Erowid.org. Mar 6, 2009. erowid.org/exp/77362
I am just a dude who happens to have a relationship with DXM. DXM has played a key role in my life and therefore deserves some attention. This is my DXM story. It is not a narrative of a specific dose of DXM. This is a much more general essay about the chemical and how I have used it throughout the years. I feel my words have weight because I have many years of experience of using DXM as a therapy for both the body and mind. In this essay I hope to encapsulate pretty much all of what I know about this chemical and get it down on paper.
My sources of info on DXM came from some dude I knew in high school, Usenet, Erowid.org, and my own experimentation. DXM is common and easy to get, however, it remains an obscure chemical that most people, including doctors, are oblivious to. During my life I have experimented with DXM in two different ways: the occasional “one-time recreational, psychedelic trip”, and, by taking smaller doses much more regularly.
Fall 1993: High School
The first time I heard of DXM was sophomore year at St. Pius X High School. An acquaintance with experience and knowledge of mind-affecting substances said that DXM was a great way to trip when acid or pot could not be found. It could be had at the grocery store, if you knew what to look for. I did not try it at that time. I actually forgot all about it until I found myself in the Navy some years later, unable to satisfy my craving for drugs.
Summer to December 1998: Navy
Shore duty naval administrative assistant (secretary) on the isle of Oahu. I became very bored, restless, agitated. I was not happy or content, I was not mentally healthy. In hindsight, I was a mixed up mess of undiagnosed and untreated depression, social anxiety, OCD, and ADHD. A VA psychiatrist later called it “mixed state bi-polar”, the merger of mania and depression.
That summer I started to do research on my work computer. I became excited and quickly learned as much about DXM as I could. I was like a sponge. I couldn’t get enough info.
The first time I dosed DXM was one of the most intense experiences of my life. I do not remember how many milligrams I took, but it was intense. I went to Saturn and back, I can still remember it to this day; it was fun and about as psychedelically intense as two hits of good acid.
During this time I dosed DXM sporadically, until I was released from active duty and sent home to start college. The experiences during that time were all pretty similar. I developed a comfortable working knowledge of DXM and its effects on my body and mind. The trip was very psychedelic. It hit the mind and the body. I want to say it was like acid, but it just wasn’t. Acid and DXM relate to each other like a strong acidic chemical and a strong base chemical. Hydrochloric acid vs. Lye. Both can burn the shit out of you, but they are polar opposites.
DXM had profound physical and mental effects, always affecting my motor skills in an amazing, crazy way. Robot walking. My speech was affected, words did not come out of the mouth as they should. The DXM episode makes me think of temporary cerebral palsy.
January 1999 to December 2000: College
I go home and enroll in college. I dose DXM maybe four random times during this period, mostly because I was a student employee at the college library and I would grow incredibly bored. I used right there at work. It was really exciting because I still got that intense wild psychedelic ride like taking two hits of good acid, it was like riding a wild bull. I was pretty sure that I was going to lose my mind and have a psychological breakdown in front of all my fellows, but I always seemed to pull through by the skin of my teeth. Good fun.
It is truly unfortunate that DXM was not my only means of dealing with the boredom and the unhealthy state of my brain chemistry. Cocaine took me down much darker and dangerous roads. After those experiences, I forgot all about DXM again for another six years…
I eventually graduated from college and then went back to work for Uncle Sam. I enlisted in the Coast Guard. By this time I had been clean and sober for a good two years. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and a Mormon marriage are great for keeping a man clean and sober, but it did nothing for my brain chemistry. I was sick and I did not know it. Damn.
My mental health began to get real bad about one year into my Coast Guard enlistment (still clean and sober). The same as before: heavy depression (nothing seems fun, the life inside of me was too dim) with a good dose of social anxiety, lots of physical and mental tension, high blood pressure, and then suicidal ideations. I needed something pretty quick before I did something stupid like throw myself off the side of the boat late at night in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.
February 2006 to May 2006: Coast Guard
One day I am chillin’ on a Navy base in Florida, my small Coast Guard boat tied up for a couple days at the pier so the crew could replenish and get some land time: Wal-Mart, bars, etc. Trying to be a good Mormon boy, I cruised the isles of Wal-Mart. As I did so I stumbled upon the cough and cold section and I suddenly remembered the good fun I’d had with DXM in the past. I bought a bottle of Vick’s Formula 44D and gently eased into a nice robo-fry. In a very real way this saved me. It gave me immediate relief from mental anguish. Why and how exactly I cannot say, but DXM nevertheless became the elixir of life for me in those days. I am not one to look a gift horse in the mouth.
The DXM that I was experiencing this time was different from the DXM trips of the past. Did I somehow change in six years in a way that allowed DXM to affect me differently? Apparently so. I felt as though I had somehow melted away the receptors in my brain that gave me those cosmic trips sending me to Saturn and back. I do not think I dosed quite as much either because I was nervous about a mental breakdown on board the boat. It doesn’t matter, I had aged, an intense psychedelic trip would not have been recreational for me anymore anyway.
It was familiar in many ways, but also very different—I was way more functional. The trip was way more subdued and gentle. I found I could dose 150 mg of DXM and feel really fucking good for the whole day. It became truly therapeutic and spiritual. The depression immediately lifted, the social anxiety dissolved. I became a more relaxed and gentle person. Happier. Calmer. I used to be so uptight that you could put a piece of coal in my ass and two weeks later find a diamond. For the first time in a while I could live with myself and others could too! For the first time I actually enjoyed being a part of my Coast Guard cutter, but it was too late, my anal retentiveness and slave driver mentality got me promoted and sent to the other side of the country. DXM did not alter my personality, but it did help me to feel good and normal. It massaged my brain and gave me a profound sense of relief. With it I felt more creative and had a better appreciation for the arts. My mind became much clearer, calmer, stronger and healthier. Is this an effect of the DXM or an effect of relieved mental anguish? I do not know. It is a great question to ask. The main point is that DXM was no longer a recreational psychedelic for me; it had become a therapeutic, spiritual self-medication, a tool to help me cope with life.
I started using it steadily at lower doses for the remainder of my time on the Coast Guard cutter.
Now, stationed on board a much smaller cutter in Oregon, I was on a steady dose of DXM. 150 mg of DXM before noon, then another 150 mg around 1800 (6 p.m.), was good to carry me through the days. On occasion, when I knew I had a relaxed schedule for the next day or two, I would close down my work area and dose a whole 300 mg at 2000, then go to bed for the night. I lay there awake in my rack all night long and felt sensations like the melting of tension in the mind; knots were loosened and untangled, release, relaxation, the sensation felt incredible. DXM sensation is very fluid. A stick of butter that collapses in a hot oven. A lava lamp. I had an awareness of waves of sensation fluidly waxing and waning in strength. DXM massaged my mind in the same way a beautiful women might massage the muscles and tissues in my back and neck. I am a better, healthier person for having done that on occasion. It was truly therapeutic. During these times my third eye (the ability to visualize and imagine and “see” in the mind while the two other eyes are closed) became incredibly strong. In the same way I could “hear” too, voices, songs, almost crystal clear.
I have always been a very tight person, I could never touch my toes. Yoga appealed to me, but I was always way too tight to get anything out of it. DXM changed that. As mental tension was let go and relaxed, the body let go of physical tension and tightness, all over, but most especially in my back. This is profound. I feel great now. I can do yoga. Touching my toes is easy. All physical activity is easier. Running. Weight lifting. I have a much better, healthier relationship with my body than I have ever had before. I approach the use of DXM the same way that I approach the practice of yoga, maybe the same way the natives of this land use Peyote in their religion.
Still in Summer 2006: The Mental Crash
I was still in the Coast Guard and I was still a Mormon so there were no other drugs or alcohol.
I began to have amazing religious experiences. I never believed or felt that I was the Son of God reborn, but I did feel pretty fucking close. I now know this to be a dangerous effect of DXM when mixed with bi-polar disorder brain chemistry. I also began to have an unrealistic awareness of my ability to accomplish great things. At one point I was sure I could be an Olympic marathon runner within a year or so. I embarrassed the hell out of myself by flying my big brother up to Oregon and energetically announcing that we were destined to be the owners and operators of our own restaurant within the next year or so. I even had plans and mission statements drawn out.
Around this time people in the Coast Guard became aware that something was a bit wrong with me. I stopped using DXM and began seeing doctors who put me on medication, Tegretol (Carbamazepine) at first, then Cymbalta (Duloxetine) along with Tenex (Guanfacine). This resulted in a mental crash and I began to make suicide attempts, which got me discharged from the Coast Guard and sent home. A marriage was also abolished along the way. Was DXM responsible for all of this? A resounding NO. Everything that occurred within and around me during this period was unavoidable. I believe DXM was a catalyst, a therapeutic tool.
January 2007: Back Home
I had been off DXM for about two months by this time, and the Army Medical Hospital’s head psychiatrist had me on Zoloft and Seroquel, which were working pretty well despite the 25 pound weight gain. I abruptly stopped the medication regimen, because after being discharged I no longer had any kind of medical insurance. I was getting no medical attention at all, I didn’t smoke pot, but I did begin to drink. A lot. Way bad. I also used cocaine sporadically during this period, but was able to put it down after a while. Alcohol, however, had become my medication of choice.
I kick around town and lived my life. By the summer of 2007 I was drinking heavily and I started to use DXM again in the range of 150 mg to 450 mg per day (150 mg doses one to three times per day). The DXM was good; depression eased, so did anxiety. I felt strong and fairly good. I had a pretty kick-ass summer. But the drinking was still heavy and the delusional thinking was coming back. I was a loose cannon. I shoplifted DXM everyday. I began to believe that I was a Robin Hood reincarnation. I also used my knowledge of the now obsolete Dungeons and Dragons. I fancied myself a thief in the D&D world. I also believed that shoplifting was the same as the “gleaning” of agriculture by the poor class of people in ancient Jewish law. Delusional, dangerous thinking.
In August 2007, I end up robbing a grocery store with a culinary knife and stealing away with a fistful of $20 bills. Jail time. Violent crime felony charges. The whole bit.
After 33 days in county jail I was released on bond. After jail I was clean and sober and began psychiatric treatment with a doctor; the Department of Veterans Affairs saved my ass in a number of ways once I finally got in contact with them and told them my story. No DXM. The diagnosis: a bad case of bi-polar affective disorder. I started on 600 mg Lithium carbonate, 300 mg Wellbutrin SR, and 80 mg Prozac. I immediately began to stabilize.
(Interjection: I was sick and felt like shit mentally, emotionally, spiritually long before and completely independent of DXM or any other self-medication. This has been the case since my youth and all through adolescence and all my life. I see this now and I can see the effects of DXM, bi-polar affective disorder, alcoholism and drug abuse, independently of each other. Self-medication has helped me, it has damaged me, it has complicated me, but it has also been my only means of survival so I will not discredit them completely.)
New Year 2008:
I start drinking again. No big problems, but of course this did not last long. After a few months, alcohol began to negatively affect my life. I bounced in and out of jail, twice, went on drunken rampages and hurt feelings all around. I am now in recovery. Alcoholics Anonymous. I feel that my alcohol days are done.
I start using DXM again, every day. I may skip a day, but not usually two days, unless I go to jail. I search for the purest forms. Robitussin gel caps are a current favorite. I can do 150 mg in the morning and another 150 mg after lunch. I use the syrups, too. These have been working well for me, however, I hate all the other ingredients in both the gel caps and syrup. I long to find a pure form of DXM.
I have been seeing a psychiatrist and a therapist and I have been communicating honestly with my girlfriend and my parents and taking medication every day. 10 months now. I actually feel pretty good. No delusional thinking and no beautiful religious experiences. No depression. No anxiety. No suicidal ideations. I am waiting now for my legal troubles to pass. I hope this happens by the end of the summer. I am still using DXM, it still keeps me loose and relaxed. I have been using it for a longer stretch of time than I have ever used it before. But I feel very grounded.
So that’s my DXM story and for now I am sticking to it.
Side effects that I have noticed:
1 - Digestion is a problem. I have always had a chronic problem with constipation and Irritable Bowel Syndrome and DXM only makes these worse. I have been able to combat that with a product called Dual Action Cleanse. Plus I eat well. Good whole foods. Fiber.
2 - DXM still fucks with my motor skills a bit. I do not walk like a robot, but I find it difficult to pick up tiny things with my fingers or do small precise movements with my fingers. Typing can really trip me out in a curiously fun way.
3 - Slurred and seized speech. Not a huge deal but it is a bit alarming. My tongue betrays me! This is the side effect that gets me in trouble. People start to look at me funny. Honestly, I feel fine and strong and healthy and capable of doing any normal activity or exercise, but my tongue seems to grow thick and move slowly and words seize on the way from the brain to the tongue.
4 - Sleeping patterns are not normal. I definitely do not sleep the same while on DXM. I could be better about forcing myself to stay in bed or to stay awake in an effort to maintain a normal sleeping pattern, but I do not like to - I much rather prefer to listen to my body and mind. With steady DXM use, I sleep in spurts. 1 - 3 hour naps. Day and night mean nothing. Also, the sleep is different. I feel rested I guess, but I do not get the normal deep sleep cycles. And I talk a lot more in my sleep. I notice a bit of hypoxia or respiratory depression.
5 - I sweat a lot more. A lot more.
6 - Sexual dysfunction is the biggest annoyance. DXM keeps me from having an orgasm. I have tried to get around this with no success. The only solution is to stop dosing DXM long enough to get the orgasms to come back. This usually takes about 36 to 48 hours of no DXM.
7 - Nervous system fatigue. I cannot think of any other way to describe it. My body has strength, there is no lack of glycogen in the blood, but my nervous system begins to noticeably wane, my brain and nerves loose power. I feel as though I could possible “wink out” at any moment. The feeling seems to be a precursor to a seizure. When I begin to feel this way I know I have been using DXM too much and I immediately stop and sleep for a while. Upon waking I always feel much better and leave the DXM alone for a day or so. One time back in the Summer of 2006 I started to feel an acute sense of “winking out”. I knew I had to go lay down in bed for a while so I just left the dinner table without explanation and went to the bedroom. I guess I slipped into a coma or something for about 10 minutes. I eventually snapped back awake to find my wife on the floor crying hysterically after numerous attempts to shake me awake. Nothing that scary has ever happened to me since. I have been very careful to obey the warning signs. I stop dosing DXM and start sleeping long before I reach the critical point that I reached back in Oregon.
8- Tourette-like symptoms. Involuntary tics in the body. Crazy tics! Wild snapping spasms. These occur mostly as I close my eyes and drift off to sleep for the night.
9 - Memory peculiarities. Lost thoughts. Inability to pull out common names or words.
I can go without DXM for about 48 hours. The withdrawal leaves me lethargic in body and mind. I do not notice depression. It is nothing as a bad as the crash coming down from cocaine. It is not as bad as the heroin withdrawal either.
The muscles around my spine begin to tighten up.
I must eat like a bird so as to not aggravate the lethargic heaviness of my body and mind.
I must drink lots of water.
I begin to lose my appreciation for the arts.
Sexual energy begins to come back right away.
Mental lethargy. It is a pain in the ass to go fishing around in the mind when I want to remember everything I ate for my intake log.
About this time I give in and drink some cough syrup. I start to feel better, but it takes 2 or 3 heavy doses to get the ball rolling again.
I want to distance myself from DXM because of the sexual and digestive side effects.
I want to distance myself from DXM because of all the extra shit that I have to ingest so I can get to the DXM.
Again, I long for a pure form of DXM powder.
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