It sounds like some kind of bizarre, internet-fueled virtual reality drug when you first hear it, but upon learning what the buzz-word “Robo Tripping” really stood for, I wasn’t as surprised as I thought I’d be.

Robo Tripping is the use of over the counter cough syrups (like Robitussin) and lozenges containing dextromethorphan (DXM). DXM in high doses creates side effects comparable to street drugs like PCP and ketamine.

Many kids believe because the high comes from an over-the-counter medicine, the high itself is safe, but it can have dangerous repercussions when taken in large doses. Along with short-term dangers like addiction, hallucination, nausea and vomiting, long-term damages may occur to the kidneys, as many of these cough syrups contain.

An online website called DXM Stories contains information about not just side effects and dangers, but stories from actual people who struggled through DXM addiction.

Kids may experiment with drugs for any number of reasons, from trying to cure feelings of social anxiety, to coping with the stress and pressure of home and family troubles.

As parents we owe it to our kids to talk to them about drugs in all their forms, as well as the damages they may cause. They need to understand that just because something can be purchased in the local drug store without a prescription, that doesn’t make it safe.