Over the Counter Medicine Abuse: 4 Things to Know and Do

There are so many topics that we need to start talking to our children about at a young age but in an age appropriate way. Talks about being a good friend morph into conversations about being a responsible digital citizen as they start going online, observations made about alcohol while dining out can lay the groundwork for discussions about underage drinking, and modeling good cell phone behavior can convey the message that no text is worth a life once your kids get behind the wheel. But did you know that over the counter medicine abuse is also a topic that should also be discussed early?

As a parent of an almost 10 year old and 7 year old, I’m pretty savvy on texting lingo but not so much about slang that has to do with medicine abuse. Even though October is National Medicine Abuse Awareness Month, Stop Medicine Abuse is an ongoing prevention campaign funded by the Consumer Healthcare Products Association that aims to alert parents and community members of the dangers of teens abusing over the counter cough medicines. With 1 in 20 teens abusing over the counter cough medicine to get high, teen medicine abuse needs to be on our radar screen.

What do you need to know? StopMedicineAbuse.org urges parents to know what’s in their medicine cabinets and what can be abused. Look for dextromethorphan (DXM), a cough suppressant found in over 100 products that is commonly used to get high.

What should you do?

  • Safeguard the medicines in your home by throwing out old expired ones you no longer need and take stock of what you keep in your cabinet. Knowing what you have in your medicine cabinet can tip you off to a potential problem if things go missing.
  • Talk to your teen about the dangers of abusing all medicines, including over the counter ones.
  • Know the lingo. Just as it’s important to know texting slang, it’s also important to know the slang for medicine abuse. CCCs, robo-tripping, Skittles, red devils, and syrup head aren’t what you think. Here’s a helpful infographic that provides definitions of 5 commonly used terms when discussing medicine abuse.

Pills and medicine bottles courtesy on pink background courtesy of Shutterstock. Infograph courtesy of Consumer Healthcare Products Association and OTCSafety.org


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