June 12, 2009 —
If you ever need to be reminded that cough medicine abuse can affect any community, you should read this Detroit News article about local health officials and their reaction to the rise in over-the-counter medicine abuse within local schools. Even after two years as one of the Five Moms, and an even longer time as an educator and a parent, I'm still a little surprised every time I hear teens are abusing medicine.
We know that our supporters are working hard to spread the word about this teen behavior. The dangers of abusing medicine are serious, but we can, as parents and people active in our community, take responsibility to fight this behavior and keep our families safe. But when an article like the one mentioned above appears, it is a reminder that we still have work to do.
It is up to us as parents to look after what is in our own house by safeguarding the medicine cabinet and talking with our kids. However, by being informed and aware of the risks of intentionally abusing cough medicine, you can also help prevent this teen behavior from entering your schools and community.
As a community, you can react like this group in Somerville, New Jersey, which hosts workshops on the dangers of medicine abuse in order to educate parents, school staff, and professionals. It doesn't always have to be as formal as a town hall or workshop, though. Any way you can find to talk to other parents to spread awareness about the dangers of medicine abuse will help push a positive message of prevention into your communities.
The bottom line is that as parents, we need to get talking. We need to make sure people in our communities are informed and involved; knowledge is our ultimate resource in the fight to stop medicine abuse in the community. For more tips on taking action on a community level, be sure to check out the resources we have here. If you have any examples or specific ideas, you can always join the Stop Medicine Abuse Fan page on Facebook to discuss how your community is responding to medicine abuse.