October 23, 2008 —

In the month of October, we are taking a close look at the role the community plays in helping to prevent many kinds of drug abuse, including cough medicine abuse. For these five weeks, each of us will post an article to FiveMoms.com that takes a close look at how we can call on other community members to help create awareness about dextromethorphan abuse.

Cough medicine abuse is something that can certainly happen in any community. While we are all doing our best to keep our ear to the ground when it comes to finding out about incidents, it is up to you as parents to look closely at what is going on around you.

We often share news about recent incidents around the country here at Five Moms, and we hope that you find it informative and a reason to take action and help prevent cough medicine abuse. This summer, I pointed out a few articles from different sides of the nation that showed how cough medicine abuse was affecting two different communities in the states of Washington and Massachusetts.

When it comes to dextromethorphan abuse, it may seem like no news is good news. Just because incidents are not making their way to your local paper, it does not mean that cough medicine abuse isn't happening. The most recent data indicated that as many as 2.4 million teens have abused over-the-counter cough medicine to get high. That means you need to make sure that local educators and officials know what to look for to help combat the trend.

Something that I recommend is using past articles as a way to point to not only an incident, but to a solution. As an example, look at what the school district in Davison, Michigan, a community just outside of Flint, is doing. Instead of waiting for a news story about a local teen getting sick from abusing cough medicine, they decided to build a task force to educate parents and students about the dangers of over-the-counter and prescription drug abuse:

Prescription medication abuse by teens and young adults is a serious problem in the United States. According to the Partnership for a Drug Free America, 1 in 5 teens has abused a prescription pain medication, 1 in 5 has abused prescription stimulants and tranquilizers and 1 in 10 has abused cough medicine. [...] They state that while there is not a huge number of disciplinary cases in the schools due to drugs, Task Force members do feel that one incident is one too many.
You can bring your community together by finding a common issue that all of you can combat together. If you have any other examples of recent community action to prevent medicine abuse, please share them with us so we can help get the word out. We want to make sure that parents are aware of all the great things going on in communities to fight abuse.