What Is Triple C? Are They Dangerous?

Learn about Triple C and its risks, dangers, and consequences of abuse and addiction in this comprehensive article.

Table of Contents

What Is Triple C?

Triple C is another name for Coricidin HBP Cough & Cold, a cough suppressant and decongestant that contains the active ingredient dextromethorphan (DXM). Dextromethorphan is a hallucinogen, which is the primary reason this medication is abused. Some variants contain up to 30 mg of the active ingredient in each capsule.

Coricidin HBP Cough & Cold is an over-the-counter drug, meaning it is available without a prescription. In fact, the twenty-four- and forty-eight-count boxes are readily available at several drug stores, Walmart, and Amazon. As a result, the drug is popular with young adults and teens since they can easily buy it without any hassle. In 2006, reports indicated that three different over-the-counter medications were responsible for 66% of DXM abuse. 1
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How Is Triple C Used?

Triple C is sold as a liquid, tablet, or liquid gel capsule, and it comes in different varieties designed for cold and cough, flu, or chest pain and congestion. Triple C is safe for use when taken at the recommended dose—one tablet every six hours (must not exceed four doses every twenty-four hours) or 30 mL every four hours (must not exceed six doses every twenty-four hours).

However, this drug is often taken at higher doses and used recreationally for its hallucinogenic and euphoric effects. Triple C is typically ingested but can also be injected or snorted. Recently, the abuse of Triple C gel capsules and tablets has increased, and is commonly mixed with other drugs like methamphetamine or ecstasy.  

Is Triple C Dangerous?

When Triple C is taken as directed, side effects are rarely observed. However, people who abuse the drug often consume large doses of Triple C, a lot more than the actual dosage. Large amounts of this medicine can result in dangerous side effects, such as vomiting, seizures, and overdose. One study found that Triple C use in adolescents caused depression, psychosis, and cardiac toxicology. 2

Another study indicated that acute megadoses of this medication could cause physical and psychological side effects similar to phencyclidine (PCP). 3


Acetaminophen is a painkiller and a major constituent of Triple C’s ingredients. Acetaminophen is among the safest drugs on the market, but a high dosage of over 4,000 mg can cause liver damage. Acetaminophen is the second most common cause of liver transplantation in the world and is responsible for 56,000 emergency department visits, 2,600 hospitalizations, and 500 deaths U.S annually. 4
This is important given that one Coricidin HBP Maximum Strength Multi-Symptom Flu tablet contains 325 mg of acetaminophen and 10 mg of DXM. So, taking half of a twenty-four-count pack equates to 3,900 mg of acetaminophen and 120 mg of DXM. Consistent abuse of Triple C medicine will eventually result in significant liver damage.


Triple C drugs have a mild addiction profile. However, frequent abuse can lead to dependence and then addiction with time. Triple C addiction is associated with severe withdrawal effects like memory problems, tremors, and panic attacks.

Negative Side Effects of Triple C

While high doses of this medication can elicit feelings of euphoria and hallucinations, Triple C abuse has been associated with several negative side effects. Some of the Triple C side effects include:
  • Red or watering eyes
  • Slurring speech  
  • Stomach pain  
  • Blurry vision  
  • Poor muscle control  
  • Irregular heartbeat  
  • Nausea  
  • Rashes
  • Itchy skin  
  • Hypertension 

How Long Does Triple C Stay in Your System?

The effects of Triple C begin to become noticeable about fifteen to thirty minutes after use and can last for about three to six hours. However, dextromethorphan stays in the body for more than six hours.
Dextromethorphan can remain in the bloodstream for eleven to twenty-two hours in people who metabolize the drug fast. While for people who metabolize slowly, it can stay up to thirty-three hours.

Can Drug Tests Detect Triple C in Your System?

No, there are no Triple C drug tests that can detect the presence of Triple C in your system. Drug tests are designed to look for illegal or specific prescription drugs in your hair, sweat, urine, or blood.

However, the way dextromethorphan reacts in the body is similar to some controlled substances like PCP and ketamine. So some PCP urine immunoassays might give a false positive result for an individual that has consumed a high dose of DXM.

Can You Overdose on Triple C?

Yes, it is possible to overdose on Triple C. Because it takes a large amount to produce a Triple C high, the risk for overdose is more prominent. As a result, people ingesting this drug for its hallucinogenic effects pose a higher risk of taking more than the body can tolerate, resulting in an overdose. In fact, DXM is responsible for over 6,000 emergency department visits per year in the U.S. 5
Triple C overdose is a medical condition that must be treated as soon as possible. If you or someone close to you overdosed on Triple C, call 911 immediately.

Signs of a Triple C Overdose

Early detection of Triple C overdose is essential for successful treatment. So the ability to quickly identify overdose symptoms is crucial. Triple C overdose symptoms can include:
  • Increase in blood pressure
  • Double or blurred vision
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Dissociation
  • Hallucinations
  • Fever
  • Breathing problems
  • Profuse sweating
  • Coma
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Death

How Do We Prevent and Treat Triple C Abuse?

Constant use of Triple C can potentially lead to a substance use disorder, and if Triple C abuse is left untreated, it can lead to disability or death. So If you’re currently struggling with Triple C addiction or abuse, you should visit a healthcare professional or treatment facility, such as Profound Recovery, as soon as possible.
There are several approaches to preventing and treating Triple C abuse. They include:
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This is one of the most effective strategies to address substance abuse and addiction. Cognitive behavioral therapy at rehab centers can help people change their behaviors and views toward Triple C.

A reward-based strategy known as contingency management can also help people recover from Triple C addiction.

Mental Health Treatment

Substance use disorders usually co-occur with mental illness, so people who abuse Triple C may also be struggling with a co-occurring mental illness, such as anxiety or depression. Thus, mental health treatment can significantly help an individual’s overall well-being rather than just treating the addiction. This can also lead to fewer instances of substance abuse in the future.

Get Treatment for Triple C Abuse at Profound Recovery

Are you currently struggling to beat Triple C addiction and abuse? Get the help and support you need at Profound Recovery. Profound employs an evidence-based treatment system, utilizing proven and effective therapies and techniques to ensure each patient receives high-quality treatment. In addition, you’ll also have access to treatment that’s personalized to your specific needs, situation, and condition.

Contact us today to learn more about our programs and begin your Triple C addiction treatment journey.

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