Now that you have learned more about over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicine abuse, it’s time to get involved:

  • TALK to your teen about OTC cough medicine abuse.
  • MONITOR your medicine cabinets and your teen’s activities.
  • SHARE what you have learned with other parents and community leaders.


Teens listen, even if they act like they don’t. In fact, teens who learn about the risks of drugs from their parents are 50 percent less likely to use drugs. There are ways to bring up critical issues like medicine abuse with your teenager – the trick is to know the right questions to ask. Teens may mistakenly believe that because dextromethorphan (DXM) is usually found in OTC cough medicines, it must be harmless and is just an easy and safe way to get high. It's not. When abused, DXM can cause serious side effects. Parents have the power to ensure their teens hear the truth.


Monitor Your Medicine Cabinet

Take steps to protect your teens by safeguarding  all the medicines you have in your home. Know what you have and how much, so you will know if anything is missing. According to The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, 64 percent of parents report that medicines in their home can be accessed by anyone.

Monitor Your Teen

Be aware of what your teen does on the Internet, the websites he or she visits, and the amount of time he or she is logged on. There are many websites and online communities promoting DXM abuse with instructions on how to achieve certain levels of highs. And, of course, monitor your teens for the warning signs of drug abuse. In order for teens to take the dangers of medicine abuse seriously, they need to know that their parents do not approve of any sort of substance abuse.


Speak up – at school meetings, sports events, and other gatherings of parents – to make sure others active in your teen’s day-to-day activities know the warning signs of OTC cough medicine abuse. Make sure you know who your kids are hanging out with and if their parents are aware of the dangers of OTC cough medicine abuse. Many kids are abusing these medicines right in their own homes or their friends’ homes.

Here are the three key messages to share with fellow parents:

  • Get educated.  Inform them of the issue and let them know about the educational resources at for more information.
  • Talk to your teens.  Remind them that talking to their kids about the dangers of OTC cough medicine abuse is one of the best ways to keep teens from trying it.
  • Safeguard all medicines. Advise them to ensure they know exactly what medicines are in their homes and how much medicine is in each bottle or package.

After reading this, will you better safeguard your medicines at home?