The Downside of Getting High on Cough Syrup

By Salvinorin A · Aug 10, 2007 · ·
  1. Salvinorin A
    By Aaron Rowe June 27, 2007

    A recent article in the Journal of Emergency Medicine tells the story of a 20-year-old kid from Portland, Oregon that extracted the active ingredient, dextromethorphan, from some cough syrup and tried to get high with it. Thanks to the doctors that treated him, their patient did not earn a Darwin Award. Case reports written by doctors are often far more exciting than an episode of House or any other hospital drama. They tend to include a lot of fun facts.
    As a bonus for their readers, the authors included two recipes for the drug that nearly killed their patient. Those recipes came from the infamous Vaults of Erowid website. It is an encyclopedia of sometimes detailed and usually dangerous instructions for making drugs with improvised methods that would make MacGyver cringe.

    When a chemist wants to extract something from a complicated mixture, they often use extremely pure solvents and a device called a separatory funnel. Proprietors of the finest meth labs often steal them from college campuses. Without access to these supplies, rogue chemists must resort to using chemicals from the grocery store and kitchen. Combined with a lack of scientific knowledge, the results are what you would expect -- terribly impure drugs that are in no way fit for human consumption.
    In the improvised recipe, the drug is extracted from the cough syrup with ammonia and then from the pungent household cleaner with cigarette lighter fluid. When teaching an organic chemistry class, my rather sharp students often had a hard time getting rid of every last bit of the solvents they were working with. Keep in mind that they had all of the proper equipment and adequate instructions. Imagine how much lighter fluid could have been left over in the cocktail that this young pillar of society prepared for himself. In this case, it appeared to be an overdose of the active ingredient that did most of the damage. The doctors commented that some, but not all of his symptoms were in line with a dextromethorphan overdose.
    Both the paper and some recent news stories claim that the abuse of dextromethorphan is on the rise. As a regular consumer of organic produce, I fall into the category of individuals that are appalled by the notion of tainting my food with anything that may be remotely toxic. The thought that consuming something that is prepared with ammonia and tainted with lighter fluid and who knows what else could be a popular pastime terrifies me.

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  1. Salvinorin A
    Here's the story about the kid who drank a very unclean dxm agent lemon extraction (that Paracelsus was talking about in the DXM forum).

    Ways to avoid this mistake to anyone reading...cus it actually isn't that hard to make.

    Do as my water washes to the naphtha as possible, do so many that you have no way of telling the difference between the water and naphtha (exaggeration).

    Also, boiling the final product is incredibly important. This won't help with getting rid of ammonia (swim thinks, but that's what the water washes are for), but this will make sure the naphtha will be gone, swallowing naphtha aint exactly a fun business.

    Also doing a naphtha wash before extracting from cough syrup might help the overall product be cleaner and save some washing time.

  2. Zentaurus41
    What dangers, both substances have this "weird" property that means over time they evaporate. The ammonia is just made with
    dissolving gas into water, which go back into gas again over time. The solvents, well they just evaporate, I hate it when they try to shock people with what
    chemicals are used to make a given product. Especial when most store bought drugs are probably synthesised with chemicals that are probably lethal n small amounts.​
  3. Salvinorin A
    Yeah, I know what you mean. It's the same technique as "Methamphetamine is made with the stuff under your sink"

    It just never stops.

  4. JDreaming
    The article unfortunately does not make a lot of sense to me. The message seems to be "trying to extract DXM from cough syrup using formulas on Erowid results in dangerously impure DXM". Yet for the kid who ended up in the hospital, "it appeared to be an overdose of the active ingredient that did most of the damage". So the main problem was the kid took too much DXM, but the author's of the extraction are still being horribly irresponsible? Because someone could hypothetically poison themselves if they perform it wrong?

    I would think for those who have a basic knowledge of how to work safely with hazardous chemicals, and who take the time to learn the important properties of different solvents, those Erowid extraction formulas which supposedly would "make MacGuyver cringe" could potentially increase the safety of taking DXM by a lot. As in, it's the only way many people who are interested in dissociative states could try DXM without chugging a ghastly syrup full of god-knows-what.

    Yeah, cause having a separatory funnel is what makes you a real scientist. Those are so hard to find, where would a clandestine chemist ever obtain one? :eek:
  5. Zentaurus41
  6. Nagognog2
    Time to drag this old chestnut out again:
  7. Swimster
    yea, a sep-funnel is one of the easiest things to obtain!! hell, MOST teen, or young amatures who perform the extraction use a plastic zip bag anyway!
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