October 17, 2008 —

In the month of October, we are taking a close look at the role the community plays in helping to prevent all kinds of drug abuse, including cough medicine abuse. For these five weeks, each of us will post an article to FiveMoms.com that takes a close look at how we can call on other community members to help create awareness about dextromethorphan abuse.

Research has shown that the biggest times of risk for substance abuse are during times of change in kids' lives. Something like a new school or moving up in grades will bring new pressures to teens. They are tested by new social, emotional, and educational experiences. These challenges can increase the risk that they will abuse alcohol, tobacco, and even legal substances like medicines.

No matter what age your kids may be, they may someday be pushed to try something like abusing cough medicine. One way you can help prevent this is to make your teens and other parents aware throughout your community. For the last 10 years, the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA) have been ensuring that communities come together to combat local problems of drug abuse. They have shown a few keys that will help prevent abuse in your neighborhood.

We may not be able to be there when our child is exposed to cough medicine abuse, but if we set up and participate in community-wide efforts to make sure our kids know how dangerous such activity is, they'll have the information and strength needed to do the right thing even when we're not with them. We can show them that there are better, safer ways to cope with stress and peer pressure.

It is important for a community to start drug abuse prevention programming as early as possible. Communities with programs have a much higher rate of success at keeping their kids away from substance abuse. According to CADCA, 47 percent of young people have used an illicit drug by the time they leave high school.

Consider talking to kids as a group to help prevent defensive behavior. Prevention programs aimed at general populations at key transition points, such as the start of middle or high school, can have a positive impact even among high-risk children. Most importantly, the most successful programs find ways to get your local neighborhood kids involved.

Getting a coalition together isn't easy, but there may be one in your area. For more information about the community's role in helping fighting substance abuse, check out CADCA's web site.