7 Ways You and Your Teen Can Get Involved in National Medicine Abuse Awareness Month This October

This post was updated slightly in September of 2022.

Did you know that, according to CADCA, one in five young adults have misused a prescription drug, and that according to the latest Monitoring the Future study, one in 37 teens have used over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicine to get high from the active ingredient dextromethorphan (DXM)?

The statistics are alarming, but as a parent, you are one of your teen’s primary influencers when it comes to their decision-making. After all, teens who learn about the risks of drugs from their parents are 50% less likely to use them.

There is no better time than now to spark a conversation with your teen about making smarter and more informed decisions. October is National Medicine Abuse Awareness Month (NMAAM), a time for community leaders and parents to raise awareness of the dangers of prescription and OTC medicine misuse.

Not sure how to get involved? We’ve rounded up seven ideas for how you and your teen can participate in NMAAM this year:

  1. Test your OTC medicine IQ. Take this interactive OTC Quiz and test your knowledge. Compare your results with your teen!
  2. Familiarize yourself with DXM facts. DXM is the active ingredient in most OTC cough medicines. Learn about what it is, where it’s found, and how to identify DXM-containing products.
  3. Learn what DXM misuse looks like. Teens may mistakenly believe that since DXM is found in OTC cough medicines and can easily be obtained, it might be a harmless way to get high. It’s not. When misused, DXM can cause serious side effects. Here are the warning signs to look out for.
  4. Monitor your medicine cabinets. Safeguard the medicine in your home by taking inventory of what you have and how much, so you will know if anything goes missing without explanation.
  5. Learn from the experiences of others and have open conversations with your teen about what you’ve learned. Read firsthand accounts from former OTC medicine misusers to learn how much OTC cough medicine can affect someone’s life. A mother and son recently shared their first-hand experiences with Stop Medicine Abuse – see Cecilia’s blog here and her son Enrique’s blog here. You can also visit WhatIsDXM.com with your teen to hear real stories of abuse. Discuss the stories with your teen, so they can better understand the real consequences. There are ways to bring up critical issues – like medicine misuse with your teen – the trick is to know how to start the conversation.
  6. Share what you have learned with other parents and community leaders. Spread the word on social media using facts and educational materials. Our friends at CADCA have rounded up some social media share tools on PreventMedAbuse.org that you can easily share on your own social channels. Speak up – at school meetings, sporting 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 misuse as well.
  7. Encourage coalitions in your community to participate in the Dose of Prevention Challenge. The first-place winner will be recognized at CADCA’s National Leadership Forum, as well as receive a full scholarship to the forum and a $1,500 cash prize. Winners will also be recognized in CADCA’s publications. For inspiration, check out how last year’s winner, ACT Free Drug Coalition, empowered southeast Michigan communities on prescription and OTC cough medicine abuse using culturally sensitive and bilingual educational materials. ACT engaged with over 3,000 community members through both online and in-person events. Think you can reach more? Sign up for the challenge here.

Happy participating!

Take Action

Increased awareness can only mean increased prevention. Join us in the fight against teen cough medicine abuse by exploring and sharing our free resources.