By Christy Crandell of The Five Moms
Approximately one in 25 teens reports abusing excessive amounts of DXM to get high. Even more disturbing, some teens ignore labeling instructions and intentionally take large amounts of DXM – sometimes more than 25 times the recommended dose of these medicines in order to get high. You might be asking yourself, “What is DXM?” Dextromethorphan (DXM) is an active ingredient that is found in many over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicines. It is safe and effective when used as directed, but can produce harmful side effects when abused and taken in excess.
Most parents make a point of talking with their teens about the dangers of abusing substances such as marijuana and alcohol, but cough medicine abuse isn’t always on the radar. That’s one of the many reasons why October is National Medicine Abuse Awareness Month. Join the fight to end medicine abuse by educating yourself and others on this dangerous teen trend.
Here are some ways you can get involved in your home and your community to end medicine abuse:
- Join the #ToMyTeen campaign. Research shows that teens who are validated by their parents are more resistant to peer pressure, which can include the pressure to participate in dangerous behaviors such as cough medicine abuse. The #ToMyTeen campaign was created to trigger a conversation among parents about what is rewarding about raising teens today. Tell us about your teen by creating your own #ToMyTeen message on our website!
- Have a conversation with your teen. Teens who learn about the risks of drugs from their parents are 50 percent less likely to use drugs. Have a discussion with your teen about the side effects of cough medicine abuse. Visit com with your teen and talk about real stories from teens who have abused cough medicine. Offer your teen actionable tips for resisting peer pressure.
- Get the PACT Act on the agenda. Several states have already created laws to prevent the sale of products containing DXM to minors, making it harder for teens to purchase these products for abuse, while still keeping cough medicine accessible to those who use it for its intended use. Make sure your state joins the fight by asking your representatives to co-sponsor the “Preventing Abuse of Cough Treatments Act” (the PACT Act).
- Share resources and talk to other adults about teen medicine abuse. Visit org to find toolkits for parents, educators, school nurses, law enforcement officials, community leaders and retailers/pharmacists. The toolkits include fact sheets, presentations and other resources to help you start the discussion about teen medicine abuse. You can also host an event in your community to talk about substance abuse, treatment options and intervention strategies.
- Get involved with your local chapter of Community Anti-Drug Coalition of America (CADCA). These community coalitions are comprised of parents, teachers, businesses and other community activists who are working to make their communities safer, healthier and drug-free.
Education and awareness are key to preventing teen medicine abuse. This month, you can start this important conversation. You are also invited to join the Stop Medicine Abuse community on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for the latest tips, news and updates on teens and medicine abuse.
Contributor: Christy is a mother of two, an author and a contributor to The Five Moms blog on StopMedicineAbuse.org. Christy is also a drug awareness advocate, passionately working to educate other parents about risky teen behaviors such as over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicine abuse. Join the conversation by following Stop Medicine Abuse on Facebook and Twitter.