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dascmom
03-02-2015, 08:59 AM
I have a character who is a senior in high school and has been trying to escape reality by experimenting with alcohol, illegal drugs, prescription drugs, and more recently over-the-counter drugs. At this point in the story, he will do anything to get high. He is at home alone, bent over in the bathroom closet, looking for whatever he can use. He finds a bottle of cough medicine with the active ingredient of DXM (dextromethorphan) and starts drinking. I am not going to go into huge details as to exactly how much he drinks, if there were other ingredients in the medicine, but i will end the chapter with him passing out, having overdosed. I do not want him to have taken enough to cause a serious health problem or brain damage. I really just want him to go to the hospital to recover, and from there, he will go to rehab.

My questions are as follows: could drinking a bottle (i don't want to specify exactly what brand or amount) be enough to get him very sick but not die of an overdose? how does the high feel from DXM? What symptoms would he have if he took too much- enough to slip into unconsciousness but not enough to kill him? what kind of treatment would they give him at the ER? would they pump his stomach or do something else? Any information about DXM overdose would be helpful. Thank you so very much.

Dascmom

Solaris91
03-02-2015, 02:41 PM
I looked it up a bit, and what i could find suggests that death from an dxm overdose isn't really feasible, unless there are other factors involved (paracetamol/acetaminophen seems to have negative effects), as it would take at least 100 pills of a common dosage to achieve anything even close to an acutely lethal dosage. As for the effects it can have, those are pretty wide, and sometimes contradictory (e.g. sedation can occur, as well as restlessness, the blood pressure may get too high or to low, etc.). however, i found no description of acute loss of consciousness due to dmx, so you might need to get creative there (the low blood pressure could help).

MDSchafer
03-02-2015, 03:31 PM
Yeah, I don't know if someone could consume enough DXM to damage themselves, but codeine overdoses aren't that uncommon. There is a otc brand of cough syrup that has something like 10 mg of codeine per 5 ml of fluid. the LD 50 for Codeine is around 800 mg, so it wouldn't take much to get into serious trouble.

Antonin
03-02-2015, 07:11 PM
Normally when people robotrip (are we still calling it that?) they down a whole bottle. I mean, if you want to be literal, seeing as the regular dose is really small you are kinda sorta overdosing when you drink a whole damn bottle.

The hardest part would be to stay awake, but after that the trip is, as I've heard, very... robotic. I've had friends that have done it, but I haven't.

There's always www.erowid.org if you want to read some first-hand accounts of various drugs.

veinglory
03-02-2015, 07:47 PM
I accidentally overdosed on codine cough syrup whilst in the throes of a terrible cough, insomnia and trying to finish my thesis. While not terribly pleasant I never even felt the need to go to the hospital. I suspect you would need to drink several gallons before being in any real danger.

smalls
03-02-2015, 08:13 PM
If you want cough syrup to be the thing that gets him sent to the hospital and his self destructive behavior found out you could have someone find him in the bathroom vomiting in between bouts of unconsciousness and speaking unintelligibility. As others have said, he won't die from DXM but if someone discovered him in the throes of a robotrip it could definitely scare them into calling an ambulance.

dascmom
03-02-2015, 08:16 PM
These answers are great. I really only need him to appear unconscious to the person who finds him, so that the one who finds him can call 911 and the boy can be sent to the hospital, where the truth of what he has been doing with any drugs and alcohol he can get he can get his hands on. I just wonder if he was highly sleepy when he got to the hospital, would they pump his stomach or just wait for the symptoms to go away while monitoring him. Any ideas on that?

dascmom
03-02-2015, 08:17 PM
Smalls- that is what I might have happen. Good ideas.

dascmom
03-02-2015, 08:19 PM
Wow Antonin- that is a great website you listed. Many thanks!!

moonwatch178
03-02-2015, 10:02 PM
My dad accidentally gave me too much robitussin once during freshman year of HS. It made me drowsier than all get out, slowed breathing, and so on. I saw a bunch of colors. I didn't end up going to the hospital. My dad pretty much monitored me at home (much to my mothers fury when she found out!). Depending on the circumstances, it's possible that when emergency services are called that activated charcoal would be used. Not sure if they'd go so far as to pump the stomach. Would really depend on when the dextromethorphan was taken, if it was mixed with anything, and so on.

heza
03-02-2015, 10:14 PM
If you want it to seem a little more dire to the person finding him, you could leave empties around—stronger meds that were out but no one had thrown out the bottle (we've got a ton of those in our med bin). That way, the person who finds him (and the personnel who respond) won't be sure what he's actually taken until they get him to the hospital.

MDSchafer
03-02-2015, 10:36 PM
I accidentally overdosed on codine cough syrup whilst in the throes of a terrible cough, insomnia and trying to finish my thesis. While not terribly pleasant I never even felt the need to go to the hospital. I suspect you would need to drink several gallons before being in any real danger.

There's a difference between overdosing and a lethal dose. There's enough safety margin margin that accidentally getting too much codeine cough syrup. If you drink 200 mLs of some OTC cough syrup you can get a lethal dose. Which yeah,200 mLs is a lot is, about a 6.7 ounces, but if you combine some Tylenol AC with some cough syrup you can get there. People do, there's about one or two a week that come through the ER

Serenity Bear
03-02-2015, 11:51 PM
In the UK it would be possible if they took something like Lemsip which has paracetamol within it, as well as paracetamol separately. I believe it gives one kidney failure but you would have to check that.

Deb Kinnard
03-03-2015, 03:08 AM
IIRC, all over-the-counter cough medicine in the US is formulated without codeine. I had a brutal case of the flu and had to get my codeine-containing pink goo via my doctor's prescription.

I know years ago in the UK, codeine was sold over-the-counter. Don't know what current ways might be.

dascmom
03-03-2015, 08:51 AM
You have all been so helpful. I think I have most of what I need, except I would love to know what the treatment is- I wondered if they would pump the stomach or use that charcoal or just monitor him. If anyone has any information about treatment in the ER I'd love to know. THANK YOU!!

MagicWriter
03-03-2015, 10:34 PM
He is at home alone, bent over in the bathroom closet, looking for whatever he can use. He finds a bottle of cough medicine with the active ingredient of DXM (dextromethorphan) and starts drinking. I am not going to go into huge details as to exactly how much he drinks, if there were other ingredients in the medicine, but i will end the chapter with him passing out, having overdosed.

Do you have to tell the readers what the medicine is? The readers are already going to have the premise of what he is doing. You may be able to just describe a brown medicine bottle from "XYZ" pharmacy, describe him drinking it, and end with the last thing he sees, (blurry vision, dizzy) etc., and then waking up later on with a headache or in a hospital, or something. That may give you the effect you need without all these details.:)

Luvspaghetti
03-03-2015, 11:01 PM
You can overdose on it. I've been an addict for many years, haven't tripped balls on robo lately but it will distort your $@)& up. It's not a fun way to OD. Your character may pass out before he ODs unless he cooks it and separates the DXM, then he could just drink that and the effect is purely intensified.

Luvspaghetti
03-03-2015, 11:11 PM
Depends on whether its just Tussin or pure DXM. But pumping your stomach is the initial treatment. That is before you wake up to a Buncha lectures and disappointment. That's another part of ER treatment. Sometimes it's adrenaline they shoot you with because you can develop hypercardia of the heart. That's part of the OD. High fever, ECT. Memory recall and damage to ur brain may occur after.

Your character will be unbalanced for maybe three weeks after. Vertigo. Disassociation. Can't eat. Anxiety, claustrophobic. We're talking over 1000 mg of DXM here, not no I drank two bottles of cough syrup. But an inexperienced user can get sick and screwed up at 250mg. Just depends on your liver and tolerance.

It's hard to write about addiction if you havent lived it, addicts and doctors can pick it apart easy. So research well even if it's a paragraph long scene.



You have all been so helpful. I think I have most of what I need, except I would love to know what the treatment is- I wondered if they would pump the stomach or use that charcoal or just monitor him. If anyone has any information about treatment in the ER I'd love to know. THANK YOU!!

Luvspaghetti
03-03-2015, 11:14 PM
The difference being that iodine comes In a brown bottle sometimes and drinking iodine and DXM are two diff things. One implies certain suicide and the other implies drug addiction. It helps to be clear on what he took if the reader is to get a sense of his actions, state of mind, ect.

QUOTE=MagicWriter;9326250]Do you have to tell the readers what the medicine is? The readers are already going to have the premise of what he is doing. You may be able to just describe a brown medicine bottle from "XYZ" pharmacy, describe him drinking it, and end with the last thing he sees, (blurry vision, dizzy) etc., and then waking up later on with a headache or in a hospital, or something. That may give you the effect you need without all these details.:)[/QUOTE]

Solaris91
03-04-2015, 11:44 AM
@Serenity Bear: no, paracetamol damages mostly the liver and only rarely the kidneys, as far as i know, which makes it only a different kind of bad, not less bad, though. But the problem is that i don't think you can get high on paracetamol, so why take them in the first place?

as for the iodine solution, while they come in brown bottles due to being light sensitive, you can't drink them by accident, as the common Iodine-Potassium Iodine solution tastes extremely bitter, so you have to be pretty high to begin with to not notice that.

Heroine'sJourney
03-04-2015, 02:15 PM
The author of The Basketball Diaries called drinking cough syrup "nodding off" if I recall. He said he used to do it on the subway and just fall asleep. No frothing at the mouth or seizures, and that's when they used narcotics were in the actual ingredients.

If you want to really mess up your character believably such that they must go to the hospital, consider rx pill + alcohol. It gets messy and embarrassing, fast, for non-addicts who forget that they popped a pill that morning, then have wine or beer later that evening. So I hear.

TuckerMcCallahan
03-13-2015, 03:51 PM
The author of The Basketball Diaries called drinking cough syrup "nodding off" if I recall. He said he used to do it on the subway and just fall asleep. No frothing at the mouth or seizures, and that's when they used narcotics were in the actual ingredients.

If you want to really mess up your character believably such that they must go to the hospital, consider rx pill + alcohol. It gets messy and embarrassing, fast, for non-addicts who forget that they popped a pill that morning, then have wine or beer later that evening. So I hear.

You're talking about Jim Carroll. Who was a heroin addict. That's what nodding off is, darling. Running junk. Jim did a lot of it.

The best advice is above, about doing research - and I know this is a research forum, but there's a huge jump between looking stuff up online and talking to online peeps, and actually getting in your car or onto the bus or subway and taking a jaunt to a drug rehab. Go. Take a tour. Tell them the truth: you're writing about drug use. They'll be happy to show you around. Better yet, tell them a lie. Tell them you're looking for a place to put your sister, brother, husband, daughter, son, etc. They'll give you the gold tour and lots of pamphlets. If you can't afford to do this or it's more than your scruples allow, call the 800 number for Narcotics Anonymous. They have meetings everywhere. Find one near you and go. They're free, there's always coffee, and you can smoke there. There's also loads of people who will TALK to you. Heh. You just might not want to talk to them.

My dollar's worth on this subject. That was way more than two cents.

Good luck~
Tux

Cath
03-13-2015, 06:21 PM
You're talking about Jim Carroll. Who was a heroin addict. That's what nodding off is, darling. Running junk. Jim did a lot of it.

The best advice is above, about doing research - and I know this is a research forum, but there's a huge jump between looking stuff up online and talking to online peeps, and actually getting in your car or onto the bus or subway and taking a jaunt to a drug rehab. Go. Take a tour. Tell them the truth: you're writing about drug use. They'll be happy to show you around. Better yet, tell them a lie. Tell them you're looking for a place to put your sister, brother, husband, daughter, son, etc. They'll give you the gold tour and lots of pamphlets. If you can't afford to do this or it's more than your scruples allow, call the 800 number for Narcotics Anonymous. They have meetings everywhere. Find one near you and go. They're free, there's always coffee, and you can smoke there. There's also loads of people who will TALK to you. Heh. You just might not want to talk to them.

My dollar's worth on this subject. That was way more than two cents.

Good luck~
Tux
Bolding mine.

I can't recommend lying to find information. You also risk not getting a full and honest picture, because folks will want to give you the good version. A surprising number of people like to share their story if they thing you can spread it.

You're veering very close to the RYFW line here with your tone. Dial it back a bit, please.

TuckerMcCallahan
03-14-2015, 05:09 AM
Bolding mine.

I can't recommend lying to find information. You also risk not getting a full and honest picture, because folks will want to give you the good version. A surprising number of people like to share their story if they thing you can spread it.

You're veering very close to the RYFW line here with your tone. Dial it back a bit, please.

My post was only meant to encourage a writer to seek real world experience for the particular character/situation mentioned in this thread. If any felt my tone implied otherwise, it was unintended.

Be Well ~
Tux