July 8th, 2010
12:19 PM ET

Parents be warned: Your kids may be 'Robo tripping'

There's a trend among kids, dubbed "Robo tripping," and it's not the latest dance. In fact, "Robo tripping" is one of several colloquialisms used to describe getting high from - of all things - cough medicine.  (Get it? "Robo" or Robitussin.)

The high comes from ingesting large doses of dextromethorphan, found in over-the-counter cough suppressants such as syrups and lozenges.

"I was looking for something that was easy to find, easy to do...even though I know...that this is not good, that this is wrong," said Shannon, whose story about abusing dextromethorphan as a teenager appears on the Partnership for a Drug-Free America website.

It is that ease that may be the biggest problem.

"These drugs are very often sitting in the medicine cabinet at home," said Dr. Michael Entrup, an anesthesiologist at Rhode Island Hospital. "What parent would think, 'My kid is abusing cough syrup'?"

Parents seem to be aware of other, more obvious drugs and their  potential risks to children - heroin, cocaine, alcohol and marijuana, for example.  Experts say that many are in the dark about the dangers of "Robo tripping."

"I know of cases where kids who were previously healthy come into the emergency room [after overdosing] with wide blood pressure swings, with disturbances in heart rhythm...problems with motor function," said Entrup, director of the Massachusetts Society of Anesthesiologists. "I have not seen anyone die, but I know of patients who have come close."

It is difficult to imagine near-death at the hands of a cough suppressant, but according to experts, it can happen. The danger comes when dextromethorphan-containing medications are taken with other stimulants such as caffeinated beverages, energy drinks, even prescription drugs to treat ADHD.

"It's playing with fire," said Entrup. "The ingredients in prescribed dosages don't usually cause problems, but when taken in higher dosages, and with other drugs...it could be potentially lethal."

Most often users report hallucinating, feeling dizzy or nauseated, vomiting, confusion, rapid heart beat, even numbness in the extremities.

According to a 2006 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration survey more than 3 million people age 12 to 25 had used cough medications to get high. Among patients rushed to the emergency room for non-medical use of dextromethorphan, about half (48 percent) were aged 12 to 20, according to SAMHSA.

"I would get nauseous to the point where I couldn't stand up," said Shannon. "I actually would start foaming. It's so gross to say but, when I would be getting sick I was throwing up foam...It was horrible."

And then there is what drug abuse by a teen or pre-teen suggests.

"The fact that someone is looking to abuse a drug, puts them in a category where they're more likely to abuse another drug," said Dr. Daniel Frattarelli, chair of the Committee on Drugs for the American Academy of Pediatrics. "It's not safe just because it's over the counter."

The American Society of Anesthesiologists offers tips for recognizing dextromethorphan abuse: an unusual medicinal smell on your child's breath; empty or missing cough medicine bottles; a sudden change in your child's physical appearance, attitude and/or sleeping habits; and visits by your child to pro-drug websites.

Even with the absence of the more glaring signs, experts recommend parents have a conversation about the potential dangers of "Robo tripping" with their kids.

soundoff (1,216 Responses)
  1. Google Marketing Company


    May 11, 2021 at 09:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Content Marketing Firm


    May 11, 2021 at 09:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Content Marketing Services


    May 11, 2021 at 11:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Content Marketing Club


    May 11, 2021 at 12:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Digital Marketing Event

    This website really has all the information and facts I wanted about this subject and didn’t know who to ask.


    May 11, 2021 at 13:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Social Media Marketing Agency Orange County

    I blog often and I really appreciate your information. The article has really peaked my interest. I will take a note of your blog and keep checking for new information about once per week. I subscribed to your RSS feed too.


    May 11, 2021 at 18:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  7.  Bóng đá xem bong da tieng viet

    If you want to obtain much from this piece of writing then you have to apply such methods to your won web site.

    May 11, 2021 at 20:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. esurance near me


    May 11, 2021 at 22:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. rvupgrades reviews


    May 12, 2021 at 00:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. rv furniture san diego

    I could not resist commenting. Exceptionally well written!


    May 12, 2021 at 10:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. store xnxx

    This is a topic that's close to my heart... Best wishes! Where are your contact details though?


    May 12, 2021 at 10:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. camper trailer repair near me

    Way cool! Some extremely valid points! I appreciate you writing this post and the rest of the website is extremely good.


    May 12, 2021 at 14:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. esurance rv insurance

    There's certainly a great deal to know about this topic. I love all the points you've made.


    May 12, 2021 at 15:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. motorhome body repair


    May 12, 2021 at 16:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. RV Driver Seats Orange County

    This blog was... how do you say it? Relevant!! Finally I have found something that helped me. Thank you!


    May 12, 2021 at 18:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. rv fiberglass repair shops


    May 12, 2021 at 19:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Steffen Furst

    Hello there! Do you use Twitter? I'd like to follow you if that would be okay. I'm undoubtedly enjoying your blog and look forward to new posts.

    May 12, 2021 at 23:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. rv and trailer repair

    This is the right website for everyone who would like to understand this topic. You understand a whole lot its almost hard to argue with you (not that I really will need to…HaHa). You certainly put a new spin on a topic that has been discussed for many years. Great stuff, just great!


    May 13, 2021 at 00:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Shela Mowery

    I just like the valuable info you supply for your articles. I'll bookmark your blog and check once more right here frequently. I am reasonably certain I'll learn lots of new stuff proper here! Best of luck for the following!

    May 13, 2021 at 01:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. storno brzinol

    You can certainly see your skills in the work you write. The world hopes for more passionate writers like you who are not afraid to say how they believe. Always follow your heart.


    May 13, 2021 at 03:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. RV Cabinet Riverside


    May 13, 2021 at 04:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. 2006 Mercades Sprinter 2500 Turbo Actuator Repair

    You're so cool! I don't believe I've truly read through anything like this before. So wonderful to discover another person with a few genuine thoughts on this topic. Seriously.. thank you for starting this up. This web site is one thing that is needed on the internet, someone with a bit of originality!


    May 13, 2021 at 05:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Jeannette Noriega

    It is not my first time to pay a quick visit this website, i am visiting this web site dailly and take nice facts from here everyday.

    May 13, 2021 at 07:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. commercial truck painting near me


    May 13, 2021 at 08:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Pump Windshield Washer Sprinter Repair

    Greetings! Very helpful advice in this particular article! It's the little changes that produce the most important changes. Thanks a lot for sharing!


    May 13, 2021 at 10:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. toilet repair near me


    May 13, 2021 at 10:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. RV Steps Near Me

    Good site you've got here.. It’s difficult to find excellent writing like yours nowadays. I truly appreciate people like you! Take care!!


    May 13, 2021 at 13:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Prestige Collision Sprinter Repair Mission Viejo

    Hi, I do believe this is an excellent blog. I stumbledupon it 😉 I may revisit yet again since i have bookmarked it. Money and freedom is the best way to change, may you be rich and continue to guide other people.


    May 13, 2021 at 15:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Cecilia

    of course like your website however you need to check the spelling on quite
    a few of your posts. Several of them are rife with spelling problems and I in finding it very troublesome to inform the reality on the other hand I
    will definitely come again again.

    May 13, 2021 at 16:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. orange county awnings


    May 13, 2021 at 17:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. trailer shops near me

    Pretty! This has been an extremely wonderful post. Many thanks for supplying this info.


    May 13, 2021 at 19:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. tv repair orange county ca


    May 13, 2021 at 20:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Rust Repair Sprinter

    Hi there! This article couldn’t be written much better! Looking through this article reminds me of my previous roommate! He always kept talking about this. I'll forward this article to him. Fairly certain he'll have a great read. Many thanks for sharing!

    https://go.onelink.me/v1xd?pid=Patch&c=Mobile Footer&af_web_dp=https://fleetrepairshops.com/gmc-high-top-van-repair-shop-near-me

    May 13, 2021 at 20:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. RV Washing California


    May 14, 2021 at 03:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Sprinter Van Repair


    May 14, 2021 at 05:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Sprinter Van Repair

    I was very pleased to discover this great site. I want to to thank you for your time due to this wonderful read!! I definitely liked every little bit of it and i also have you book marked to check out new information on your blog.


    May 14, 2021 at 05:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Sprinter Side Door Repair

    Hello there! This article could not be written any better! Looking through this post reminds me of my previous roommate! He continually kept talking about this. I will forward this information to him. Pretty sure he'll have a good read. Thanks for sharing!


    May 14, 2021 at 05:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. rv dashboard

    This blog was... how do you say it? Relevant!! Finally I've found something which helped me. Thanks a lot!


    May 14, 2021 at 07:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. stair repair near me

    I was pretty pleased to uncover this great site. I need to to thank you for ones time for this particularly wonderful read!! I definitely loved every little bit of it and I have you book marked to see new things on your site.


    May 14, 2021 at 08:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. bus mechanic near me


    May 14, 2021 at 09:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. rv parts temecula

    This site truly has all of the information I needed concerning this subject and didn’t know who to ask.


    May 14, 2021 at 14:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. stornobrzinol

    Good website! I truly love how it is easy on my eyes and the data are well written. I am wondering how I could be notified whenever a new post has been made. I've subscribed to your RSS feed which must do the trick! Have a great day!


    May 14, 2021 at 14:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. rv shower upgrade

    Can I simply say what a comfort to find somebody who actually knows what they're talking about on the web. You certainly know how to bring a problem to light and make it important. More and more people must check this out and understand this side of the story. I was surprised that you are not more popular because you surely have the gift.


    May 14, 2021 at 15:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Eye Exam Phoenix Az


    May 14, 2021 at 18:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. drone repair orange county


    May 14, 2021 at 20:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Ophthalmologist Near Me


    May 14, 2021 at 21:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Vision Center


    May 15, 2021 at 03:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Maserati All Models


    May 15, 2021 at 03:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. property for sale rathdrum

    bookmarked!!, I like your web site!


    May 15, 2021 at 03:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. v bucks 10

    What's up to all, the contents present at this site are truly awesome for people knowledge, well, keep up the nice work fellows.|


    May 15, 2021 at 05:15 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23

Leave a Reply to stumpy


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.