FDA Considering Anti-'Robotripping' Rules
Dextromethorphan (DXM) is the ingredient in question, and is found in a myriad of easily accessible, entirely legal drugs. When taken in excess, users of DXM experience euphoric sensations that can include hallucinations.
In recreational use, the drug is usually "chugged" in syrup form, often at hundreds of times the recommended dosage. The practice is referred to by many nicknames: dex, tussin, triple C's, skittles and red devils, according to the Justice Department. On the street today, you're more likely to encounter it blended with other, more palatable substances and called sizzurp (when mixed with a Jolly Rancher and soda), purple drank (when mixed with just soda) or simply "syrup" or sippin syrup (when mixed with alcohol).
But abuse is also tied to serious side effects, including elevated heart rate and blood pressure, vomiting, fainting and liver damage caused by other ingredients added to cough and cold products.
It's dangerous enough to have caused around 8,000 hospitalizations in 2008, according to a new report from the FDA. But users don't seem deterred: Reports of hospital trips have soared 70 percent in merely four years.
"Because of the drug's perceived safety, ease of availability, and desired psychoactive effects, it is sought after by those seeking to alter their mental state," the FDA report reads, according to The Associated Press.
The FDA has a few options on added rules for DXM and will soon consult with a panel of experts for guidance. The agency could restrict medications -- now readily available at drug stores -- to prescription. More likely, however, it will either require the drugs to be sold behind the counter or restrict purchases by those under the age of 18.
Kids and teens are those most likely to abuse DXM, largely because the drug is easy to access and relatively inexpensive.
The substance might also be seeing increased popularity because of celebrity endorsements, like that of rap superstar Lil Wayne, who shares his affinity for DXM with verses like "weed and syrup till I die."