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October 22, 2014 —
Here’s a staggering statistic for you: Approximately one in 25 teens reports abusing excessive amounts of DXM to get high. Teens might abuse OTC cough medicine because it is affordable and easily available, or they may believe it is “less dangerous” than illegal drugs. Furthermore, roughly one out of three teenagers knows someone who has abused OTC cough medicine containing DXM to get high.
You might be asking yourself, “What is DXM?” Dextromethorphan (DXM) is found in many over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicines. It is a safe and effective ingredient when used as directed, but can produce harmful side effects when abused and taken in excess.
Many parents have a dialogue the dangers of abusing substances such as alcohol and marijuana to their teens, but cough medicine abuse isn’t always top of mind. That’s one of the reasons why October is National Medicine Abuse Awareness Month: It’s time for medicine abuse to be a topic of conversation. Join the fight to prevent medicine abuse by educating yourself and your community about this dangerous trend.
Here are some ways you can get involved in your home and inspire your community to end medicine abuse:
- Participate in the #ToMyTeen campaign. Research shows that teens who are validated by their parents are more confident and more resistant to peer pressure, which may include the pressure to participate in risky behaviors such as cough medicine abuse. The #ToMyTeen campaign was created to ignite a conversation among parents about the rewards of raising teens today. We also want to empower parents like you to be aware of the risks and warning signs of abusing OTC cough medicine. Tell us about your teen by creating your own #ToMyTeen message on our website!
- Talk to your teen. Teens who learn about the risks of drugs from their parents are 50 percent less likely to use drugs, so have a conversation with your teen about the side effects of cough medicine abuse. Visit WhatisDXM.com with your teen and discuss real stories from young people who abused cough medicine in the past. You can also offer your teen tips for avoiding and resisting peer pressure.
- Share resources and inform others about teen medicine abuse. Visit StopMedicineAbuse.org to find toolkits for educators, parents, law enforcement officials, school nurses, community leaders and retailers/pharmacists. The toolkits include fact sheets, presentations and other resources to help you start the conversation about teen OTC cough medicine abuse. You can also host an event in your community to talk about substance abuse, treatment and intervention strategies.
- Help to get the PACT Act on the agenda. Several states have already passed legislation to prevent the sale of products containing DXM to minors, making it harder for teens to purchase these products for misuse, while still keeping cough medicine accessible to those who use it for its intended purpose. Make sure your state joins the effort by asking your representatives to co-sponsor the “Preventing Abuse of Cough Treatments Act” (the PACT Act).
- Get involved with your local chapter of Community Anti-Drug Coalition of America (CADCA). Community coalitions are comprised of parents, teachers, businesses and other community activists who are working to make their communities safer, healthier and drug-free.
Together, we can raise awareness of the dangers of OTC cough medicine abuse and, in turn, educate and empower other parents to start the conversation with their teen. Join the Stop Medicine Abuse community on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for the latest news, updates and advice on teens and medicine abuse.