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  • Guaifenesin Abuse | Effects & Dangers Of Expectorant Misuse

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    Guaifenesin Abuse | Effects & Dangers Of Expectorant Misuse

    Abusing guaifenesin can cause side effects such as headache, nausea, and vomiting. In severe cases, overdosing on guaifenesin can lead to seizures, trouble breathing, and unconsciousness.

    Guaifenesin is a cough expectorant, which can be taken to expel mucus from the body through coughing. It can be available in brand name over-the-counter common cold medicines such as Mucinex and Robitussin.

    Mucinex, Robitussin, and other guaifenesin products may also contain the active ingredient dextromethorphan (DXM), a cough suppressant with a known potential for substance abuse. 

    Abusing guaifenesin cough medicines with DXM in them can cause psychosis, dissociative effects, and other serious side effects.

    Effects Of Guaifenesin Abuse

    Guaifenesin may have a moderate potential for drug abuse, due to its low cost and accessibility to high doses. Abusing guaifenesin can cause:

    • headache
    • nausea
    • vomiting
    • dizziness
    • drowsiness

    High doses of guaifenesin and DXM cough syrups can cause delusions, hallucinations, psychosis, and out-of-body experiences. Serious mental health effects may be linked to DXM abuse. Guaifenesin may not cause these side effects on its own.

    DXM products also may have street names such as “skittles,” “robo,” and “poor man’s PCP.” These products may also contain guaifenesin.

    Dangers Of Guaifenesin Abuse

    Drug interactions can worsen the effects of guaifenesin or dextromethorphan abuse. If you are taking opioids or drinking alcohol frequently, you may wish to talk to your doctor.


    High doses of guaifenesin can lead to an overdose. Symptoms of a guaifenesin overdose may include seizures, unconsciousness, and trouble breathing. If you see these symptoms in a loved one, call a poison control center immediately.

    Guaifenesin may be readily available to children, adolescents, and people with a high risk of drug abuse. Abusing over-the-counter cough syrups can have serious short-term and long-term side effects. 

    To find out if our drug abuse treatment program works for you and your loved one, please contact us today.


    What Is Guaifenesin?

    Guaifenesin is a cough expectorant present in over-the-counter cough medicines such as Mucinex and Robitussin. Guaifenesin can have side effects when abused. Cough medicines may contain both dextromethorphan, a potent substance, and guaifenesin.

    Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
    ©2024 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.
    This page does not provide medical advice.
    Article Sources

    National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus - Dextromethorphan
    National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus - Guaifenesin
    Psychopharmacology Bulletin - Dextromethorphan in Cough Syrup: The Poor Man’s Psychosis

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