Does Robitussin DM Contain Alcohol?

In our latest question and answer, our pharmacist discusses whether or not Robitussin DM contains alcohol.


Does Robitussin DM extra strength contain alcohol? I get really sick from alcohol.

Asked by Rona On Jan 30, 2023

Answered by
Medical Content Reviewed By HelloPharmacist Staff

Published Jan 31, 2023
Last updated Jan 31, 2023

Key points

  • Robitussin DM does contain chemical compounds classified as 'alcohols', like propylene glycol, but it does not contain ethanol, the type of alcohol found in alcoholic beverages.


Thanks for reaching out! It's always a good idea to ask questions like this as oftentimes, whether or not a particular over-the-counter product contains alcohol isn't always clearly stated.

There is no alcohol (i.e., ethanol) contained in Robitussin DM.

It does contain some compounds that are classified as 'alcohols', such as propylene glycol, but I imagine you are referring to ethanol, the type of alcohol in alcoholic beverages.

Below is the label for the product, with the ingredients highlighted:

Robitussin DM Drug Facts

It is important to note that Children's Robitussin DM also does not contain alcohol.

Why Do Some Cough Syrups Contain Alcohol?

Even though Robitussin DM doesn't contain alcohol, you may be wondering why some cough syrups do contain it. Well, there are several reasons, including:

  • Alcohol can act as a preservative, helping to prevent the growth of bacteria
  • Alcohol can help solubilize (i.e., dissolve) other ingredients in a given product
  • Alcohol can mask the bitter tastes of some ingredients
  • Alcohol can have a mild sedative effect when used in nighttime cough syrup formulations

Always be sure to look at the labeling of the product you are looking to purchase, specifically, the 'inactive ingredients', to see if it contains alcohol.

Final Words

As mentioned above, I imagine when you ask if Robitussin DM contains alcohol, you are referring to ethanol.

Other alcohols, like menthol and propylene glycol, are chemically classified as alcohols, but are not intoxicating and do not have a significant effect on the central nervous system like ethanol does.

Thanks for reaching out! Contact us again anytime.


  • Robitussin Manufacturer Website, Robitussin
  • Alcohol-containing pharmaceuticals, PubMed
  • Ethanol Monograph, PubChem

About the Pharmacist

Dr. Brian Staiger, PharmD

Dr. Brian has been practicing pharmacy for over 13 years and has wide-ranging experiences in many different areas of the profession. From retail, clinical, program development, and administrative responsibilities, he's your knowledgeable and go-to source for all your pharmacy and medication-related questions! Dr. Brian Staiger also has herbalist training and educational certificates in the field of medical ethnobotany. Feel free to send him an email at! You can also connect with Dr. Brian Staiger on LinkedIn.

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