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% less likely to use drugs. There are ways to bring up critical issues like medicine abuse with your teenager – the trick is to know how to start the conversation. Teens may mistakenly believe that since dextromethorphan (DXM) is found in over-the-counter 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 know the truth.


Monitor Your Medicine Cabinet

You can take steps to protect your teens by safeguarding the medicines you have in your home. Take inventory of what you have and how much, so you will know if anything goes missing. According to The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids55% of parents report that medicines in their home can be accessed by anyone.

Monitor Your Teen

In addition to monitoring teens’ behavior for warning signs of medicine abuse, be aware of what your teen does on the Internet, the websites they visit, and the amount of time they spend online, because there unfortunately are websites and online communities promoting DXM abuse with instructions on how to achieve certain levels of highs.


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 abuse. Speak with others in your community – healthcare professionals, law enforcement, retailers, etc. to make sure they are aware of this issue. 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 parents 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?

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