February 16, 2010 —

Things have been very busy for me, and I was back on the road to Washington, D.C., to take part in the National Leadership Forum of the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America. Whether you’re travelling like me, or juggling the other parts of a busy schedule, it’s worth thinking about how crucial it is that we find time to communicate with our kids about the dangers of cough medicine abuse. It can be difficult to talk with our children about drug abuse, but the consequences of not talking are far worse. According to recent survey data, 83 percent of parents report feeling prepared to talk with their children about cough medicine abuse; however, only 21 percent report having done it. One goal for this year should be to start or continue a conversation with your teens about the dangers of OTC medicine abuse. In order to help you get started, here are some things to keep in mind when it comes to talking about medicine abuse with your children: Be Prepared Talking with teens is the first step in preventing cough medicine abuse, but parents have to be educated on the issues so that teens fully understand the dangers and consequences. Be prepared for the talk by educating yourself on the facts about cough medicine abuse. Start early No matter the age of your children, talking to them about drug abuse can make a big difference. Start the conversation with your kids before their teenage years and build on the discussion as they grow older. Be sure the information you offer your children fits their age or developmental stage. If you have any questions, you can visit timetotalk.org from the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, or ask your kids’ teachers or school nurse for some guidance. Create an Open Environment Create an atmosphere in which your children can ask any questions and feel at ease discussing the topic with you. Have the conversations in places where you all feel comfortable.  Encourage your children to start the conversation by having a positive attitude and being honest with them. Let your teens know that you were once a teenager, too, and that you can relate to some of the issues they’re facing. Talk Often It’s so imperative that we talk with our kids about substance abuse, and that we talk with them often. Take advantage of everyday opportunities to talk with your teens and build an ongoing dialogue to keep the lines of communication open. Listen to Them While it’s important to talk to our teens, it is equally important to listen to them. Listening allows us to understand our children’s experiences and perspectives. When they’re talking, focus your full attention on them. Have you successfully talked with your teens about cough medicine abuse? Share your advice with other parents at the Stop Medicine Abuse Fan page on Facebook.