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DXM Diaries, Act Three

D. Freeman

A boring historical overview that leads nowhere...

It's a hallucinogen, an entheogen, a recreational intoxicant, a painkiller, a euphoriant, an antidepressent, and a powerful dissociative. It's good for dancing, bending space in your living room, or just getting a little wiggy on a Friday night. I'm not talking about the latest chemical whipped up in Shulgin's lab, I'm talking about a sticky sweet elixer from heaven, known on the street as "Robo," or if you're really hip just simply "Dex." Yes friends, I'm talking about Dextromethorphan, also known by the handle DXM, and it is the killer pharmaceutical app for the under-twenty crowd, totally pure, uncut, and available at your local drugstore for around six bucks a pop.

I'm serious.

Some may snicker at the idea that a cough medicine can be anything but a cheap dirty high for the desperate and drugless, but there are many out there who swear by the psychedelic power of DXM, going so far as to call it pure panacea suspended in a soothing cherry flavored syrup. Okay I made that up, the syrup is awful, it makes you gag. But to those who have fallen under DXM's spell there is nothing sweeter than chugging an eight-ounce bottle and settling in for a few hours of detatched fuzziness, reality blurred and bent around the edges until it is no more, time slowly slipping into an endless drift of weightless bliss, vast and eternal, unending, unchanging.

There's no doubt that DXM packs a hard metaphysical whammy when taken in high doses, or can also be a giggly social intoxicant at lower doses, but the debate over the relative entheogenic worth of this chemical rages on. Many who've tried it have a very disappointing response, quickly dismissing it as a cheap high that teenagers flock to simply because it "fucks you up" and is more readily obtained than alcohol. Others find it mildly pleasant, but are also quick to point out that "dexing" is akin to drug-slumming, something to do on a night when all the good drugs have gone missing.

And then there are those who proudly call themselves "Dex heads," DXM users who have formed an almost mystical bond with the substance. These users are typically immediately swept away by the utility and vastness of DXM's power, and oddly prefer the bittersweet aftertaste of the Robo-chug to any other form of recreational intoxication. To this latter category of Dex heads, DXM is more than just a dissociative or a recreational intoxicant, it actually takes on the status of a true entheogenic ally, a spirit guide, and a force that is welcomed in their lives in just about any occasion -- at parties, at work, at school, while watching TV, while chatting online, while driving around town running errands -- possibly even granting them supernatural powers in the process. These people would not like being called addicts, but semantics aside, they are dexers.

But not everyone likes DXM. According to William White's DXM FAQ -- the most comprehensive and widely cited underground doc on DXM -- there is a mythical "Rule of Thirds" that applies to DXM users: one third will hate it; one third will have a mediocre experience; and one third will like it, and will want to try it again (and again, and again...). In my own experience I have found the percentage of people who actually like DXM to be smaller than this rule would indicate, but maybe that's because all the hardcore dexers are hiding somewhere. Maybe they are walking among us, unseen, thier DXM fixation shielded to the untrained eye! However, from casual conversations extracted from a vast number of people who have tried a lot of different drugs, the majority tend to view DXM it as a quick and dirty high, akin to the Colt 45 the entheogenic pantheon. It ain't Dom Perignon, but it'll sure get you twisted.

So why do people still flock to it? Back in the Groovy 60's there was a lot of interesting stuff floating around; acid, grass, mescaline, opiates, amphetamines... But slipping in under the radar was an innocuous cough suppressant named Romilar. Though most people in the counterculture considered chugging Romilar to be the kind of degenerate thing only a withdrawing heroin junky would do to fight off the shakes, there was a certain group of underground weirdos just crazy enough to think swigging cough syrup was a decent way to get their kicks. The artistically strange would sip cough syrup from a red wine glass to cut the degenerate edge of it all. The technical geeks would sneak cases of Romilar into their university labs and make unauthorized use of the centrifuge for a little while, effectively isolating pure DXM powder from the syrup.

But by the time the '70s rolled around the "me generation" was too unapologetic to bother masking degenerate behavior in any form, mixing sweet newcomers like Robitussin or Vicks 44 with their typical buffet of ludes and amyl nitrate poppers as if God himself intended cough syrup to be consumed en mass. Legendary rock critic Lester Bangs swigged Romilar right from the bottle and was damn proud of it, and by the time punk rock kicked into full swing the whole cough syrup thing had become passe. Chug a bottle of anything and pass out in your own vomit and you're cool. No doubt about it. It was just another way to gorliously derange your senses, degenerate or not, or go fuck yourself, who cares?

Although Romilar is still available in Asia, Europe, and South America, it is no longer distributed in the US. By the late seventies Robitussin had become the DXM source of choice, though the fading of degenerate culture in the '80s led to a decline in the visibility of the cough syrup trend as a whole. The '80s was a decade of yuppies and cocaine-fueled ambition, and cough syrup went underground hard and fast, becoming once again the domain of street people, desperate losers, and bored high school kids.

But as with all trends what's old is new again, and with the turn of the new millenium DXM is back with a vengeance. While still technically the domain of bored high school kids, thanks to the internet DXM has a newfound visibility. Right this second there are no less than five full-time web sites dedicated solely to DXM, as well as a host of other personal pages, mailing lists, newsgroups, forums, chat groups, etc. Pure DXM has been available for sale on the internet off and on over the past few years, so the DXM trend rages on.


Brought to you by DXM: Don't do it!

Tags : psychedelic
Rating : Teen - Drugs
Posted on: 2004-09-07 00:00:00