March 11, 2009 —

Do your kids know the dangers of cough medicine abuse? While many of us make it a practice to discuss substance abuse, over-the-counter (OTC) drug abuse is often left out of the discussion. In fact, the Partnership for a Drug-Free America's 2008 Partnership Attitude Tracking Study found that while more than one third of teens learn about the dangers of substance abuse from their parents, less than one fifth say their parents talked to them about the abuse of dextromethorphan, the active ingredient in over-the-counter cough medicine.

Understandably it can be a challenge to talk to your kids about these dangers. One way to foster a conversation on OTC abuse is to use recent news stories as a discussion starting point. With that in, mind, below are two stories which you can use to get the conversation going in your home or community.

Earlier this month, working mom Mia Williams wrote about the peer pressure her two teenage sons face in school every day. Mia made an excellent point about the importance of parents talking to their teens about prescription and OTC medicine abuse, which many teens see as less risky than illicit drugs. As a professional in the healthcare industry, Mia has first-hand experience with teen medicine abuse. She wrote,

"As a physician assistant, I definitely see this as a growing trend...Teens seem to underestimate the risk involved in the use of prescription and OTC medications."

Another great article comes from Esther J. Cepeda, a journalist and educator who wrote a great article about why it is important that we talk to our teens about this issue. Last month, Esther interviewed my friend and fellow Five Mom Hilda Morales about cough medicine abuse in the Latino community and discussed raising awareness about this important issue. Esther's entry includes some great tips from Hilda about how to keep your family safe.

Stories about cough medicine abuse are covered throughout the country. If you see an article worth sharing, visit the Stop Medicine Abuse Fan page on Facebook. It's a great way we can use our community to spread the word about cough medicine abuse.