11 Minutes

Edited & medically reviewed by THE BALANCE Team
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Believe it or not, ingesting a bottle of cough syrup can lead to a psychedelic experience similar to LSD or magic mushrooms! Robotripping, the act of getting high on cough syrup, is more popular among teenagers than you may think. While these medications are safe and effective when used as directed, dextromethorphan (DXM) abuse has become increasingly popular among young people seeking a cheap and easy high. The average age of someone who has tried robotripping is just 16 years old. 

Robotripping has been linked to several fatalities, with reports indicating that at least 25 people have died from complications related to its use in the past decade and over 10,000 emergency room visits in the past year.

The internet has made it easier than ever for people to access information on how to abuse cough medicine, leading to a rise in cases of robotripping. Here, we’ll take a closer look at the risks and consequences of robotripping and explore some of the warning signs that may indicate a problem with DXM abuse.

Also known as DXM tripping or Robitussin tripping, robotripping is a slang term used to describe the recreational use of DXM, a common ingredient in cough and cold medications [1]. This practice involves consuming high doses of DXM to achieve altered states of consciousness, including dissociative and hallucinogenic effects. While the drug is safe when taken as directed, robotripping can be extremely dangerous and potentially life-threatening.

Classification And Types Of Robotripping

DXM is classified as a dissociative anesthetic, which means it can alter the user’s perception of reality and cause them to feel detached from their surroundings [2]. In low doses, it is an effective cough suppressant, but in higher doses, it can produce psychedelic effects similar to those of ketamine or PCP [3].

There are four different plateaus of DXM robotripping. Each plateau corresponds to different robotripping effects, ranging from mild dissociation to full-blown hallucinations and out-of-body experiences [1]. These are:

  • Plateau 1: Mild stimulation and euphoria
  • Plateau 2: Increased dissociation and altered perception of reality
  • Plateau 3: Intense dissociation, hallucinations, and potential for out-of-body experiences
  • Plateau 4: Complete dissociation, delirium, and potentially life-threatening effects

Biological Mechanisms: The Science Behind Robotripping

When consumed in large doses, DXM works by blocking NMDA receptors in the brain, which are responsible for regulating memory, pain perception, and other cognitive functions. This can lead to a dissociative state, where users feel disconnected from their bodies and surroundings [3].

Robotripping carries several potential risks, including:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dizziness and disorientation
  • Rapid heartbeat and high blood pressure
  • Seizures and convulsions
  • Respiratory depression and potential for overdose
  • Psychological distress and suicidal ideation [4]

The risks of robotripping are heightened by several factors, including the user’s age, weight, overall health, and other drugs or alcohol in their system. DXM should never be used in combination with other drugs or medications without medical supervision.

The Legal and Ethical Implications: What You Need to Know

DXM is available over the counter in most pharmacies and drug stores. However, selling or distributing DXM-containing products to minors in some states is illegal, and some retailers may ask for identification to prevent misuse [4]. It is important to note that using DXM for recreational purposes is illegal and can result in criminal charges.

Robotripping can produce a range of dissociative and psychedelic effects that can vary in intensity and duration depending on the dosage, setting, and individual factors [1].

Here we will explore what it feels like to robotrip in ten stages, highlighting the different sensations and experiences that users may encounter.

Numbness And Tingling Sensations

DXM can produce a numbing effect on the body, similar to the feeling of “pins and needles” in the limbs. This can be accompanied by a tingling sensation and a feeling of warmth spreading through the body [2].

Euphoria And Relaxation

As the DXM begins to take effect, users may experience a sense of euphoria and relaxation. This can be accompanied by a feeling of detachment from reality and a heightened sense of introspection [3].

Altered Perception Of Reality

As the DXM begins to reach higher plateaus, users may experience an altered perception of reality. They may see objects and people in a different light, with colors appearing more vibrant and sounds becoming distorted [4].

Dissociation From Body And Surroundings

At higher doses, DXM can produce a state of dissociation, where users feel disconnected from their bodies and surroundings. This can create a sense of floating or being out of the body, as if they are watching themselves from a distance [1].

Time Dilation And Distortion

Users may experience a sense of time dilation, where time appears to slow down or speed up. This can create a distorted sense of time, where minutes may feel like hours or vice versa [5].

Hallucinations And Delusions

At higher doses, DXM can produce vivid hallucinations and delusions, which can be both visual and auditory. These hallucinations may feel real and intense, and users may have difficulty distinguishing them from reality [6].

Intense Emotional Experiences

DXM can produce intense emotional experiences, ranging from euphoria to fear and panic. Users may feel a deep sense of empathy and connection to others, or they may experience overwhelming feelings of despair or loneliness [3].

Sensory Overload And Confusion

As the DXM begins to wear off, users may experience sensory overload and confusion. This can be accompanied by a feeling of disorientation and a loss of touch with reality [1].

Nausea And Vomiting

DXM can produce nausea and vomiting, particularly at higher doses. This can be accompanied by a feeling of dizziness and disorientation, which can be dangerous if users are not in a safe environment [4].

After Effects And Hangover

After the robotripping effects wear off, users may experience a “hangover” that can last for several days. This can include feelings of fatigue, depression, and confusion, as well as physical symptoms such as headaches and muscle aches [6].

In summary, robotripping can produce a range of dissociative and psychedelic effects, which can vary in intensity and duration depending on the dosage, setting, and individual factors. While some users may find these effects enjoyable, it is important to note that robotripping can be dangerous and potentially life-threatening. If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, it is important to seek help from a qualified healthcare professional [3].

DXM is not considered physically addictive, meaning it does not cause physical withdrawal symptoms when discontinued. However, it can be psychologically addictive, especially for those who use it regularly or in large amounts. [3]

People who use DXM may become dependent on the drug to achieve the desired effects, which can lead to compulsive drug-seeking behaviors. Additionally, the dissociative effects of DXM can cause users to detach from reality and their surroundings, making them more likely to continue using the drug to escape from their problems. [5]

Furthermore, as with any drug, the risk of addiction is increased when DXM is used in combination with other substances, such as alcohol or other drugs. [3]

It is important to use DXM only as directed and avoid using it recreationally. If you or someone you know is struggling with DXM addiction, it is important to seek professional help to overcome it.

Robotripping, or abusing dextromethorphan (DXM) found in cough syrup or other medications, can cause a range of negative side effects on the body and mind. Some robotripping effects are more severe than others, but all of them can be potentially dangerous. Here are 10 of the most common side effects of robotripping:

Nausea and Vomiting

Nausea and vomiting are common side effects of robotripping. The high levels of DXM in the body can cause the stomach to become upset, leading to vomiting.


DXM can impair cognitive function and confuse. The user may have difficulty understanding what is happening around them and may struggle to communicate.

Slurred Speech

As DXM impacts the nervous system, it can affect speech. The user may have slurred or garbled speech, which can make it difficult for others to understand them.


Dizziness is another common side effect of robotripping. The user may feel lightheaded, disoriented, or unsteady on their feet.


DXM can cause hallucinations or distortions of reality. The user may see, hear, or feel things that are not there, which can be scary and disorienting.

Increased Heart Rate

DXM can cause an increase in heart rate, which can be dangerous for individuals with preexisting heart conditions. The user may feel their heart racing or pounding in their chest.


DXM can cause agitation or restlessness. The user may feel irritable, anxious, or on edge, and may struggle to relax.


Sweating is a common side effect of robotripping. The user may experience profuse sweating, even in cool environments.

Impaired Vision

DXM can impact vision, causing blurriness, double vision, or other visual disturbances. The user may struggle to see clearly or have difficulty focusing.


In rare cases, robotripping can lead to seizures. Seizures can cause convulsions, loss of consciousness, and other serious health complications.

Timeline Of Side Effects

The timeline of side effects of robotripping can vary depending on the dose, the individual, and other factors.

  • At lower doses, the effects of DXM can take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour to take effect. The individual may feel a sense of euphoria, increased sociability, and mild visual and auditory hallucinations. They may also experience a slight loss of coordination and balance [1].
  • As the dosage increases, the individual may begin to experience more intense and unpleasant side effects. In some cases, this can occur within the first hour of taking the drug. Some individuals may feel nauseous, dizzy, and disoriented. They may also experience double vision and difficulty speaking or understanding others [3].
  • Within two to three hours of taking a higher dose, the individual may enter the plateau phase. This is where the most intense side effects occur, and they can last for several hours. The individual may experience dissociative effects, such as feeling separated from their body or surroundings, and may feel like they are in a dream-like state. They may also have intense hallucinations, both auditory and visual. At this point, they may also become completely incapacitated and unable to move [4].
  • After the plateau phase, the individual may begin to experience the come-down phase. This can take several hours to several days to wear off, depending on the dose and the individual’s metabolism. During this phase, the individual may feel depressed, anxious, and irritable. They may also feel fatigued and have difficulty concentrating [1].

Dose-Dependent Side Effects

  • At low to moderate doses, individuals may experience euphoria, increased sociability, and mild hallucinations.
  • At higher doses, individuals may experience nausea, dizziness, disorientation, and double vision.
  • At the plateau phase, individuals may experience dissociative effects, and intense hallucinations, and become completely incapacitated.
  • After the plateau phase, individuals may experience depression, anxiety, and difficulty concentrating.

It’s important to note that these side effects can vary in severity, and some individuals may experience more severe symptoms than others. Additionally, long-term abuse of DXM can lead to more serious health problems, including liver damage and addiction.

If you or someone you know is experiencing any of these side effects while Robitussin tripping, it is essential to seek medical attention immediately. Additionally, if you suspect that someone you know is abusing DXM, it’s crucial to intervene and seek professional help.

If you’re wondering how long the effects of robotripping can last, it’s important to note that it can vary from person to person and depend on several factors, such as the dosage is taken, individual metabolism, and tolerance. Here’s what you need to know about the duration of robotripping.

The onset of Effects: The onset of effects of robotripping can begin as early as 15 minutes or as long as two hours after ingestion. This variability can make it difficult for users to predict when the effects will start and can lead to overdosing, which can be dangerous.

Peak Effects: The peak effects of robotripping typically occur between two to three hours after ingestion [1]. Users often report experiencing intense euphoria, hallucinations, and a dissociative state during this time. It’s important to note that the effects can be dose-dependent, and higher doses can lead to more intense and longer-lasting effects.

Duration of Effects: The duration of the effects of robotripping can last anywhere from four to twelve hours, depending on several factors such as dosage and individual metabolism. Users may experience physical and psychological effects during this time, including numbness, disorientation, and impaired coordination [2].

After-Effects: After the peak effects have worn off, users may experience an afterglow, which is a lingering feeling of euphoria and relaxation. However, some users may experience unpleasant after-effects, such as nausea, vomiting, and headaches. The after-effects can last for up to 24 hours, especially if the user has taken a high dose [3].

Experts in the field strongly advise against the use of dextromethorphan (DXM) for recreational purposes, commonly known as robotripping. The abuse of DXM can lead to a range of harmful side effects that can be dangerous and even life-threatening. It is important for individuals to be aware of the potential risks associated with robotripping and to seek professional help if they are struggling with DXM abuse.

Parents and loved ones of teenagers should educate themselves about the signs and symptoms of robotripping, such as changes in behavior, mood, and physical appearance. Early intervention is key to preventing the long-term consequences of DXM abuse.

If you or someone you know is struggling with DXM abuse, seek help immediately from a healthcare professional or a substance abuse treatment center. With the right support and treatment, recovery is possible. Remember, it is never too late to seek help and take control of your health and well-being.

  1. Medical News Today. What to know about robotripping. Available from
  2. Wikipedia. Recreational use of dextromethorphan. Available from
  3. Healthline. Robotripping: What it is, side effects, and risks. Available from
  4. Drug Enforcement Administration. Dextromethorphan (DXM). Available from
  5. National Center for Biotechnology Information. Recreational dextromethorphan abuse and dependence in adolescents and young adults. Available from


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