June 09, 2009 —

Teenagers' lives are filled with tough decisions, handling outside pressures, and figuring out what type of person to become. While it is impossible to make all the right decisions for your teens and keep them clear of any hardships, as a parent you can help steer them in the right direction including where substance abuse is concerned, include over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicine abuse. The most important thing is to embrace your responsibility as the educator and parent and to talk to your teen in an open way. Don't turn a blind eye. No one wants to believe that their kids would ever abuse any drug, let alone OTC medicine. But the truth is teens are abusing medicine and every parent needs to be aware and keep his or her eyes open to the signs of abuse, both in the home and in the community. If you ever have a question, you can check this list of the signs of abuse from the Stop Medicine Abuse web site. Talk to your teen. A conversation about drug abuse is never an easy one, but it's necessary. And it's crucial to keep having the conversation and keep those lines of communication going. The fact of the matter is that teens who learn a lot about drugs in the home are half as likely to abuse. One way you can make it easier is by letting the issue speak for itself: Take a look at WhatisDXM.com, where you and your teens can see the negative effects of cough medicine abuse on the lives of real teens through their own personal testimonials. You also can check out timetotalk.org from the Partnership for a Drug-Free America for tips about how to talk with teens about substance abuse. Take responsibility for your medicine cabinet You need to trust your teen, but you still should take steps to safeguard your medicine cabinet. Know what medicines you have and how much medication is in each bottle or package, and be sure to tell your teens what you're doing and why. This may even be the perfect opportunity for you discuss medicine abuse. By taking action to protect your teens from OTC medicine abuse and sharing this information with other parents, you not only protect the health and safety of your own teens, but also are taking a step towards protecting other teens in your community. Don't forget to join us on the Stop Medicine Abuse Fan page on Facebook to discuss how you and your community can protect teens from medicine abuse.