Commonly Misused Over-the-Counter Meds

Last Updated: Wednesday, July 29, 2020

cough medicineAre you concerned about someone in your household misusing your over-the-counter medication? If so, the ingredients in cough medicine and the anti-diarrheal lopermide should probably be on your radar.


According to the latest Monitoring the Future study, a little bit over three percent of the young people surveyed (eighth, 10th and 12th graders combined) admitted to using cough medicine to get high within the last year.

DXM (dextromethorphan) is a cough suppressant found in many over-the-counter cough medications. When misused, it can serve as a depressant and hallucinogenic.  According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse:

 DXM may be swallowed in its original form or may be mixed with soda for flavor, called "robo-tripping" or "skittling." Users sometimes inject it. These medicines are often misused in combination with other drugs, such as alcohol and marijuana.

Other slang terms for DXM include Dex, Robo, Syrup, Tripple-C, and Tussin. has a list of a few of the common OTC products that contain DXM.

The site also features a “Prevention Teen Cough Medicine Abuse” brochure to help parents learn more about how the medicine is abused. 



People who misuse lopermide (a medicine used to treat diarrhea) will swallow large amounts of the drug.  When misused or combined with other substances it can cause euphoria as well as stomach pain, constipation and more.

Users can become addicted to and overdose on products containing DXM and lopermide. People who overdose often experience a slowness of breathing or their breathing will stop altogether.


For more information about over-the-counter medication misuse, check out:

“Over-the-Counter Medicines”   (NIDA) 

Know Your OTCs

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