Tussionex: An Evolving Addiction

Whether you’re a law enforcement officer, a teacher, or just a concerned parent or friend, it’s absolutely crucial that you be able to identify and recognize the symptoms of drug abuse in yourself, and the individuals around you. Unfortunately, the sheer amount of pharmaceuticals and prescription medications available for mass consumption and abuse can often make such a task seem overwhelming. That’s why articles like this exist: to explain in simple, understandable terms what a drug is, how it’s being abused, and what symptoms one can look for if they suspect someone they know may be abusing it.

Tussionex is a prescription strength cough suppressant and antihistamine used to treat severe cold symptoms, flu symptoms, and allergy symptoms like a hacking cough and congestion. While these uses can lead one to believe that Tussionex is just another episode in the “cough medicine abuse” saga, nothing could be further from the truth. Tussionex contains two extremely powerful drugs: Hydrocodone and Chlorpheniramine. Most people are already aware of the dangers posed by Hydrocodone, a powerful narcotic that has been abused for over a decade, but Chlorpheniramine is a relatively new arrival on the drug scene, and poses its own horrible addictive properties and side effects.

Tussionex Dangers

Ingredients: Hydrocodone bitartrate 10mg, chlorpheniramine maleate 8mg; per 5mL; as polistirex; ext-rel suspension.

Classification: Class 3

Recommended Dosages:

  • 0-6 years – NOT RECOMMENDED (Risk of fatal respiratory failure)
  • 6-11 years – 2.5mL every 12 hrs
  • Adult – 5mL every 12 hrs.

Tussionex in the Lab

Lab tests have shown Tussionex to be remarkably effective in treating coughs, colds, and allergy symptoms in adults and teens. It is available in liquid form, but only as a prescription with a limited number of doses, providing a fairly effective barrier to abuse. However, even at the pharmacy level, Tussionex boasts its fair share of warnings, from those regarding side effects to those regarding addiction and dependency.

Tussionex on the Street

In large doses, Tussionex can have a relaxing and euphoric effect on the user, making it a highly desirable recreational drug. On the street, Tussionex is referred to by a number of names:

  • Tussin
  • Tuss
  • Drank
  • Sizzurp
  • Liquid Gold
  • Syrup
  • Texas Tea

Tussionex is usually combined with alcohol and other depressants to further enhance the drug’s effects. This, in turn, increases the likelihood of overdose and severe side effects. The drug has even been popularized by several musicians who advocate it being mixed with strong alcohol and imbibed in mass quantities.

Tussionex and Addiction

A prolonged use of Tussionex, whether it be for recreation purposes or medical ones, can lead to an increased tolerance, as well as a psychological dependence on the drug. It is very important that such an addiction be identified as soon as possible, as Tussionex addiction, if left untreated, usually results in the death of the user.

Signs of Addiction

  • Prescribed doses are no longer enough to treat symptoms
  • Onset of withdrawal symptoms (shakiness, hives, moodiness, etc.)
  • Taking larger amounts of the drug than prescribed
  • Attempts to get the drug outside of a prescription
  • Faking symptoms to obtain more of the drug
  • “Doctor shopping” to obtain new prescriptions
  • Hiding their use of the drug from others
  • Lapse in responsibilities
  • A dramatic change in behavior, whether on or off the drug. A user will bounce back and forth from withdrawal behaviors to ones of satisfaction or bliss.
  • Distancing oneself from friends and family
  • Theft or attempts to borrow money

Addiction Statistics

  • 20% of people who take a prescription containing hydrocodone will become dependent on it.
  • Teens are most susceptible, making up 65% of all addiction cases.

Identifying Tussionex

Tussionex almost always comes in liquid form, unless it’s been injected into a gel tab or inserted into food. It is a bright gold or dark yellow syrup, and will most often be found in a prescription-style bottle with a child-safe cap. The substance will have a very strong medicine smell, and will be noticeably viscous.

The Risks of Tussionex

Tussionex is classified as a narcotic due to its containing 10mg of Hydrocodone bitartrate per dose. It has a number of federally registered drug interactions and side effects, even at the recommended doses.

Common Side Effects:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea / Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Blurred Vision
  • Dry Mouth / Nose / Throat

Serious Side Effects:

  • Mood Changes
  • Depression
  • Agitation
  • Trouble Urinating
  • Irregular Heartbeat
  • Painful Urination
  • Chest Tightness
  • Weak or Shallow Breathing
  • Confusion
  • Hallucinations
  • Unusual Behavior


  • Anti-Anxiety Drugs (Diazepam, Valium, Xanax, Klonopin)
  • Other Narcotics (Oxycodone, Acetaminophen, Percocet, Vicodin, Dilaudid, Codeine)
  • Tricyclic Anti-Depressants (Elavil, Tofranil, Norprmin)
  • Anti-Psychotics (Thioridazine, Triflupromazine)
  • Alcohol and other depressant substances


Overdosing on Tussionex is a very real possibility given its suspended liquid state. People who accidentally (or purposely) take too much may be at serious risk of respiratory or heart failure and stroke. Symptoms of a Tussionex overdose are hard to determine as they are very similar to the effects the drug is recreationally abused for. Symptoms include hallucinations and seizures, and may result in death.

IMPORTANT: If you suspect a Tussionex overdose, call an ambulance immediately, as time is a huge factor in predicting recovery.