January 17, 2012 —
I was pleased to see my home state of California enact recent legislation to prevent minors from purchasing cough medicines containing the active ingredient dextromethorphan (DXM). Yet, this law isn’t the only tool to prevent medicine abuse; we can each do our part to help prevent abuse by safeguarding our homes.
As parents, we take steps to protect our children from the day they are born. We cover electrical outlets, teach them to look both ways before crossing the street, and make them to wear helmets when riding their bikes. As they get older, we tell them why drugs and alcohol are bad and keep a watch for signs of dangerous behavior. However, the sad reality is that many teens are abusing medicines found in their home, and this often goes undetected by parents.
Unfortunately, I was one of those parents. It wasn’t until I lost my son that I learned about cough medicine abuse. He passed away from a lethal mix of drugs including a prescription narcotic, marijuana, and dextromethorphan (DXM), the active ingredient in many over-the-counter cough medicines. I remember seeing empty bottles of cough medicine around the home, but I didn’t have the information or the knowledge to monitor my medications.
As we start a new year, I challenge each of you to do your part. Learn the facts about medicine abuse, both prescription and over-the-counter. Know which ingredients and brands are commonly abused by teens and then take inventory of your medicine cabinet. Monitor these medicines to make sure they’re not being used without your consent. If you have any unwanted or expired medications in the home, dispose of them properly. Trust me; these small steps can make all of the difference in the world.