Published On: March 13, 2024Categories: Drug Addiction, EducationalComments Off on New Street Drugs: What are Lemons or Lemon Drops?

What Are Lemons or Lemon Drops?

The term lemons or lemon drops is being used as slang for a new street drug making the rounds as of late. When you’re talking about drugs, lemons (or lemon drops) usually refer to a mixture of dextromethorphan (DXM) and lemonade powder. 

If you’ve tried to research this new street drug “lemons”, you may come across some conflicting information (more on that later). For our purposes, when you hear people talking about a drug called lemons or lemon drops — they mean a mix of DXM and (usually) lemonade flavoring. There are some reports of other solutions being mixed with DXM, like lighter fluid or paint thinner, which raises the danger even more. 

What is DXM or Dextromethorphan?

DXM is an ingredient found in some cough medicines. It is the main active ingredient in the drug lemons or lemon drops, as well as another popular street drug called lean, purp, sizzurp, or purple drank (among many other nicknames). DXM is also often combined with the opioid codeine in cough suppressant syrups. 

Dextromethorphan is intended to be used as a cough suppressant, but when taken in higher than normal doses, it can create a euphoric high along with hallucinations, blurry vision, slurred speech, and a loss of coordination. DXM abuse has been increasing over the past 20 years and it’s a worrying trend. The arrival of this lemon drug is just one more cause for concern.   

The Side Effects of Lemons (DXM)

DXM is an unusual drug that has effects unlike most other drugs of abuse. It can lead to unpredictable side effects. The fact that many users combine it with other drugs like alcohol, cannabis, opioids or benzodiazepines further complicates matters. Mixing drugs can create dangerous compound effects. 

In other words, one drug can make the action of another much more powerful than expected. For example, if you smoke marijuana after you’ve already consumed alcohol, you can get very dizzy and nauseous suddenly. The effects of both drugs together equal more than just the “sum of their parts”. Combining stimulants can lead to rapid heart rate or even stroke or heart attack. 

Combining depressants like lemons (DXM) and alcohol, opioids, or benzodiazepine, greatly increased the odds of respiratory arrest or overdose. The user can simply stop breathing without warning. And there is no NARCAN equivalent to reverse the effects of either lemons (DXM) or benzodiazepines.

The effects of lemons (DXM) include:

  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Double-vision
  • Slurred speech
  • Hallucinations
  • Loss of coordination
  • Stomach pain
  • Vomiting 

OK, But…Why Are They Mixing DXM with Lemonade Mix?

It’s hard to say for certain. It may just be to make the cough syrup or medicine more palatable, much the way lean is made by mixing DXM-containing cough syrup with a soft drink (usually Sprite) and some Jolly Rancher hard candies. 

Another explanation is that users are relying on compounds in citrus ingredients to help isolate the DXM from other unwanted ingredients in the cough syrup, like guaifenesin. There is also some scientific evidence that grapefruit juice and Seville orange juice can change the effects of DXM in the body. 

Either way, we strongly discourage you from mixing grapefruit juice or similar drinks with any other drug. Grapefruit in particular is known to have some dangerous interactions with a surprisingly long list of prescription drugs. Many Rx meds even come with a warning label telling you to avoid grapefruit when taking the medicine. 

Of course, it should go without saying that we strongly discourage anyone from trying “lemons” or anything else with DXM in it, other than DXM-containing medications used as directed or prescribed. DXM can have unpredictable effects that can be dangerous, even to experienced drug users. Stay away from this stuff, it’s bad news. 

A Lemon By Any Other Name…

If you’ve tried to do any research into lemons and drugs, chances are you’ve come across some confusing results. Sure, Google is probably smart enough to know you aren’t after information on the sour citrus fruit with the thick yellow rind. But you may be running across content that talks about Quaaludes (methaqualone). If you are, then you’re either going to be frustrated and confused or potentially end up misinformed.

Let’s set the record straight for you. Lemons and Lemmons are two different things. Lemons, in the street drug sense, means a mix of DXM and lemonade powder. Lemmons, on the other handwas a nickname given to prescription Quaaludes back in the 70s and 80s. For a time, they were manufactured by a pharmaceutical concern called The Lemmon Company. Many of the tablets had “Lemmon” printed across them. If you’ve seen the movie Wolf of Wall Street with Leonardo DiCaprio (as Jordan Belfort) you may remember him referring to “Lemmons”. 

So, that’s the difference between lemons and Lemmons. Both are very dangerous, but you’re unlikely to encounter methaqualone in the United States in 2024. This powerful barbiturate has long been outlawed in the U.S. It may be made in illegal, secret labs or smuggled in from the handful of countries where it’s still legally manufactured — but it’s extremely rare and no one refers to them as “Lemmons” anymore. Barbiturates, as a whole, are pretty uncommon in the U.S. today, having largely been replaced by benzodiazepines.  

So to be crystal clear — if someone is talking about a drug called lemons in 2024, they mean the mixture of DXM and lemon flavoring, not Quaaludes. 

Lemons vs Lemmons:

  • Lemons refers to a mix of DXM and lemonade mix or another inert solution.
  • Lemmons was a nickname for prescription Quaaludes in the 70s and 80s.
  • Lemmons are long gone and methaqualone is both rare and dangerous now. 

Do Have Questions About Lemons, DXM, or Addiction in General?

If you’re searching for reliable information or addiction help — North Jersey Recovery Center has answers. Give us a call at (877) 790-5873

If you or someone you love is battling a substance use disorder, NJRC is here to help. Our nationally renowned drug treatment center participates with most major health insurance plans. We have helped thousands of people leave addiction behind — we can help you or your loved one too, but only if you call. 

NJRC offers a full range of programs to fit busy lives, including day and evening Intensive Outpatient Treatment. All it takes is a phone call to begin a new chapter in your life.