April 08, 2010 —
While it’s important to talk with our own teens about the dangers of over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicine abuse, it is also important to remember to educate those who could influence our teens about the issue. When I’m in schools teaching my students about drug abuse prevention, I can see exactly how many other people get involved in the lives of children. This not only includes other parents, but also coaches, teachers, counselors, and school administrators. These individuals are great allies in the fight to raise awareness about OTC cough medicine abuse among teens, and you can help by educating them on how to recognize the warning signs of abuse and ways to prevent abuse. I have an advantage. I’m in the schools every week teaching kids as a D.A.R.E. officer, but that doesn’t mean you have to be as involved in the schools to make a difference. For example, you could ask your child’s school principal to post education materials on the school’s web site and links to resources such as StopMedicineAbuse.org. You can also print out the free brochures, tools, and literature and pass them out to educators. It may help them incorporate awareness of medicine abuse into their current drug education curriculums, especially during National Medicine Abuse Awareness Month. Make sure you know what after-school clubs or sports activities your local school may have as well; if there aren’t many options, see if the school would consider adding an activity. After all, teens who are more involved in extracurricular activities, or in the community, are less likely to make poor decisions such as abusing cough medicine. When you meet with parents at PTA meetings, sporting events, and other school activities, use them as an opportunity to spread the word about cough medicine abuse prevention, too. Encourage other parents to be in close contact with their teens’ teachers and remain observant of any changes in their teens’ behavior and grades. In order to better inform parents and educators about OTC medicine abuse, you can point them to fact sheets available online or drop off some printed copies at the school’s main office. Have you talked with your teen’s school about OTC cough medicine abuse? Share your advice and stories with others on the Stop Medicine Abuse Facebook fan page at www.facebook.com/StopMedicineAbuse.