Being a parent of a teen (and with 3 more coming soon) I’m constantly aware of the dangers that face my kids as they get older. There’s no way to sugarcoat it, while being a parent to a infant or toddler is demanding in its’ own way teens need their parents to be available and to guide them through the process of growing from child into young adult. It’s a time that can be fraught with tension and worry for parents as their ‘babies’ make their own choices and have to own their consequences.
While I believe we’ve raised our kids to be smart about things like drug abuse and underage drinking (among other things) I know there are no guarantees that they will follow the path we’ve modeled. That’s why we think communication, especially openness about tough subjects, is key. Our kids may find it annoying how repetitive and honest we are about drug and alcohol abuse, but my hope is that by making the dangers clear they will be guided to make the right choice. By being firm about our limits and expectations we hope it will help them avoid the pitfalls that so many teens and young adults fall into.
While we talk about drug and alcohol abuse year-round, October is National Medicine Abuse Awareness Month so it’s a good time to start the conversation (or revisit it) with your own kids. You may talk about the dangers of alcohol, marijuana use (when and where it’s not legal), or drugs like Molly, but there is one thing you might not think about that’s probably in your medicine cabinet right now. Cough medicine.
That’s right. Cough medicine.
What is it that teens are using in cough medicine? It’s an ingredient called dextromethorphan (DXM) which is a safe and effective ingredient found in many over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicines that helps suppress coughing. Some teens are using cough medicines to get high on DXM by taking it in large quantities.
The facts are disturbing. Approximately 1 in 20 teens reports abusing excessive amounts of DXM. A survey showed that 1 in 3 teens know someone who has abused cough medicine to get high. That’s astoundingly high.
That’s why I’m sharing the information from Stop Medicine Abuse whose goal is to alert parents and community members of the dangers of teens abusing cough medicine.
Why cough medicine?
The use of OTC cough medicines as a drug are due to access. While other drugs are more difficult to source almost anyone can walk into a store and purchase cough syrup. While some states have instituted laws surrounding the sale of cough syrup to those under age 18, it hasn’t curbed cough medicine abuse. With most families keeping it in their medicine cabinet even with restricted sales teens still have easy access.
What are the effects of DXM?
When abused, DXM can cause side effects including but not limited to;
- stomach pain,
- mild distortions of color and sound,
- and loss of motor control.
What can parents do?
There is hope. Studies show that having a conversation with your child is critically important. Teens who learn about the risk of drugs from their parents are 50% less likely to use drugs.
What else can you do?
- Talk with your teen about the dangers of OTC cough medicine abuse.
- Monitor your medicine cabinets.
- Know the warning signs.
- Empty cough medicine bottles/boxes in the trash of your child’s room, backpack, or school locker
- Loss of interest in hobbies or favorite activities
- Changes in friends, physical appearance, sleeping, or eating patterns
- Declining grades
- Listen to the language your kids use. DXM is often referred to as skittling, tussin, robo-tripping, CCC, triple Cs, and dexing. (see the infographic for more info)
For more information and resources like conversation starters, log onto www.stopmedicineabuse.org. To keep up to date follow @StopMedAbuse on Twitter and use #NotMyTeen to follow the conversation. You can also ‘like’ their Facebook page to keep up to date on the latest info.
Have the conversation now, and help Stop Medicine Abuse.
Disclosure: While this is a sponsored post, all thoughts and opinions shared are my own.