Introduction to the FAQ v3.0

This document is a FAQ (“fack”), i.e., a series of questions and answers.
The term comes from Usenet, and stands for Frequently Asked Questions.
These are the sorts of questions that people new to Usenet tend to ask
frequently. When these questions become frequent enough, the question and
its answer may be placed into the FAQ for the newsgroup (or for a topic
within the newsgroup). A few people use the term AFAQ (Answers to
Frequently Asked Questions), but most use FAQ to refer both to a frequent
question and to the document

This FAQ covers dextromethorphan (decks-tro-meth-OR-fan), the cough
suppressant commonly found in cough medicines available over-the-counter in
the USA and other parts of the world. Of course, dextromethorphan (DXM)
does more than suppress coughs; otherwise, there wouldn’t be so much
discussion about it on Usenet. The bizarre truth about DXM is that it is a
very potent psychoactive drug when taken in sufficient quantities. So if
you’ve ever heard about people drinking cough syrup for fun, well, now you
know why.

The trouble, however, is that most cough medicines have other ingredients
which can make you uncomfortable, sick, or dead, depending on the
ingredient and how much you take. Furthermore, even when pure, chronic or
heavy use of DXM may cause health problems. This document is intended to
combat potentially dangerous misinformation about the recreational use of
DXM, and to allow you to make an intelligent and informed decision about

My own interest in DXM came quite by accident; once, while sick with the
flu, I misread the instructions on a bottle of cough syrup and drank two
shots from the included shotglass instead of two teaspoons. Soon after I
noticed that music and motion had become very satisfying experiences. This
left me puzzled, and my reaction was to go to the library and research DXM
through Medline, medical journals, and books.

Of course at that point I was hooked - not on DXM, but on
neuropharmacology. I decided to learn as much as I could about DXM, and
found it to be one of the most unique and interesting of all recreational
drugs in terms of how it works on the brain.

About this time I noticed a number of incorrect and potentially dangerous
posts (articles) about DXM appearing on alt.drugs. So, I decided to gather
the information I had and write a FAQ. It eventually became much more than
a FAQ, giving explanations and information in addition to answers, but by
then the name had stuck. The FAQ took me over 150 hours to complete - I
figured if I’m going to do it, I’d better do it right.

After publishing the DXM FAQ, the reports of DXM use started coming in.
People who had been using DXM but were uncomfortable talking about “getting
high off cough syrup” shared their stories with me. Some were good, some
were bad, some indifferent. I’ve been trying my best to get all of these
personal reports together into a coherent whole, but this FAQ is written in
my free time and I don’t get paid for it (although donations are acceptable

Please note that it is not my intention to get a bunch of people hooked on
cough syrup (actually addiction is very rare, but you get my point). It is
my intention for people to know the truth so they don’t make bad decisions
for lack of knowledge. DXM is not safe and harmless; nothing is. Nor is it
universally enjoyable; in fact, some find high-dose DXM experiences
terrifying. But I believe that people can only make good decisions, or
learn from bad decisions, if information is available. So please, use your

William White

May 10, 1995

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