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Drug Abuse

How to Take Action During National Medicine Abuse Awareness Month

Posted by Sue Scheff on September 19, 2017  /   Posted in Mental Health, Parenting Teens, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

By Anita Brikman

As National Medicine Abuse Awareness Month (NMAAM) approaches, I want to take some time to help inform other parents about over-the-counter (OTC) medicine abuse and the corresponding risks. It can be easy to overlook the potential dangers of misusing medicines that are legal and readily-available, but it’s important to recognize that these medicines can be harmful when abused… as some kids are doing.

Specifically, I want to highlight the abuse of OTC cough medicines containing the active ingredient dextromethorphan (DXM). While these medicines are safe and effective when used as directed, one in 30 teens have abused DXM to get high. Furthermore, one in 3 teens knows of someone who has abused DXM, which means there’s a pretty good chance that your teen knows another teen who has abused the substance. What’s even more alarming? Some teens abuse OTC cough medicine by taking up to 25x the recommended dose, which can lead to dangerous side effects such as disorientation, double or blurred vision and impaired physical coordination. It’s certainly uncomfortable to think about, but I’m comforted knowing that the Stop Medicine Abuse campaign is actively working to alert parents and community members of this issue.

As a parent, I know that we all want to keep our families safe. Here are four things you can do during NMAAM to prevent medicine abuse in your home and community:

  1. Educate yourself. Learn about the warning signs and side effects of abuse to ensure it doesn’t go unnoticed in your home. Keep an ear out for slang terms and an eye out for changes in your teen’s behavior, physical appearance or group of friends.
  2. Take inventory of the medicines in your home. If you regularly keep tabs on what you have, you’ll be able to more easily notice when something goes missing without explanation.

To identify medicines that contain DXM, check the active ingredients list on the Drug Facts label and look for the above icon on the packaging.

  1. Talk with your teen. It’s not an easy conversation to have, but teens who learn about the risks of substance abuse from their parents are 50% less likely to misuse. Once you have the talk, be sure to keep the door open for an ongoing dialogue.
  2. Inform others. Talk with parents, teachers and other members of your community. Share what you’ve learned to make sure they are aware of the dangers of substance abuse and what they can do to prevent it.

For more information on how to prevent medicine abuse, visit StopMedicineAbuse.org and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Anita Brikman joined the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) in 2016 and leads the association’s communications and public affairs functions. As a member of the senior management team, she is responsible for establishing and directing the organization’s communications strategies and goals. Anita is passionate about healthcare issues, with over two decades of experience as a news anchor and health reporter in major television markets – making medicine abuse awareness and prevention efforts important to her. She is also the mother of three teenagers.

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Teen Cough Medicine Abuse: What it Looks Like and Prevention

Posted by Sue Scheff on July 13, 2017  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

A cup of coffee in your favorite mug is not something that typically that comes to mind when you reach for cough syrup to relive your symptoms. However, some teens intentionally consume this amount of cough medicine – one cup or 250 milliliters – to get high. That’s 25 times the recommended dose.

Stop Medicine Abuse’s recent video is a startling reminder to talk with your teens about medicine abuse. Many parents think that illegal drugs and alcohol are the only substances they should be looking out for. However, one in 30 teens has abused dextromethorphan (DXM), the active ingredient in most over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicines, to get high. That’s about one teen per classroom.

How can you tell if your teen is abusing cough medicine?

Watch for changes in your teen’s behavior and keep a close eye on your medicine cabinet. Warning signs include sudden changes in attitude, loss of interests, declining grades and missing or empty containers of cough medicine. Keep an ear out for slang terms, such as “red devils” and “orange crush,” words that might not be as innocent as they seem. You can also monitor your teen’s internet behaviors for suspicious activity.

But don’t worry! There is a simple, yet effective solution: Talk with your teen. You might be met with eyerolls and dismissive comments, but the fact is that teens who learn about the risks of drugs from their parents are 50 percent less likely to abuse substances. Teens might not admit it, but they are listening and just one conversation could help prevent medicine abuse.

You can get more information at StopMedicineAbuse.org or join the conversation by following Stop Medicine Abuse on Facebook and Twitter.

Contributor: Anita Brikman joined the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) in 2016 and leads the association’s communications and public affairs functions. As a member of the senior management team, she is responsible for establishing and directing the organization’s communications strategies and goals. Anita is passionate about healthcare issues, with over two decades of experience as a news anchor and health reporter in major television markets – making medicine abuse awareness and prevention efforts important to her. She is also the mother of three teenagers.

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Missing Medicine? It Could Be a Sign of Medicine Abuse

Posted by Sue Scheff on May 26, 2017  /   Posted in Mental Health, Mental Illness, Parenting Teens

Does the scenario highlighted in the video below seem familiar?

I hope not, but the reality is that missing medicine could be a sign of over-the-counter (OTC) medicine abuse. It’s common to hear about teens abusing illegal drugs, alcohol and even prescription medication to get high, but many parents don’t realize that teens may also abuse OTC cough medicine.

If this is news to you, you may be wondering, why would teens abuse OTC cough medicine?

Teens often abuse OTC cough medicine because it’s affordable and easy to access. They may also mistakenly believe that it’s safer to abuse than illegal drugs.

The good news is that there are things you can do to help prevent your teen from abusing OTC cough medicine.

Educate yourself.

The first step is education. Learn about dextromethorphan (DXM), the active ingredient in most OTC cough medicines. Learn how to identify which products contain DXM by looking for the Stop Medicine Abuse icon. Become familiar with what DXM abuse looks like.

Monitor.

In addition to being on the lookout for missing medicine, it is also important to monitor your teen’s behavior for warning signs and side effects including:

  • Loss of interest in hobbies
  • Hostile and uncooperative attitude
  • Use of slang terms
  • Changes in friends
  • Declining grades
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Confusion, slurred speech and disorientation

Communicate with your teen.

Have a conversation with your teen about the risks of medicine abuse. Ask your teen if he or she has ever been exposed to DXM abuse or whether it’s something that’s discussed amongst peers. The reality is that one out of three teenagers knows someone who has abused OTC cough medicine to get high. That’s scary to think about, but teens who learn about the risks of substance abuse from their parents are 50 percent less likely to use drugs.

Share what you’ve learned.

It’s also important to communicate with other parents, teachers and community members to spread awareness. These conversations can be had at sports games, school activities or parent events to help inspire other parents to become vigilant against cough medicine abuse.

Parents can’t protect their teenagers from all the dangers of the world, but with education, close monitoring and a supportive community… parents can prevent OTC medicine abuse.

You can get more information at StopMedicineAbuse.org or join the conversation by following Stop Medicine Abuse on Facebook and Twitter.

Contributor: Anita Brikman joined the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) in 2016 and leads the association’s communications and public affairs functions. As a member of the senior management team, she is responsible for establishing and directing the organization’s communications strategies and goals. Anita is passionate about healthcare issues, with over two decades of experience as a news anchor and health reporter in major television markets – making medicine abuse awareness and prevention efforts important to her. She is also the mother of three teenagers.

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The Stop Medicine Abuse Icon: An Easy Way to Identify Medicines that Contain DXM

Posted by Sue Scheff on June 15, 2016  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Help

By Jessica Belitz

DXM. Ever heard of it? If not, you aren’t alone. However, while DXM may not be a part of your everyday vocabulary, it could very well be a part of your teen’s lexicon.

DXM, or dextromethorphan, is the active ingredient in most over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicines, and is the most widely used cough suppressant ingredient in the United States. While millions of Americans rely on OTC cough medicines – and consequently DXM – to safely and effectively relieve their cough, these medicines can also be abused by adolescents. At times, teens take more than 25 times the recommended dose of OTC medicines containing DXM and, when taken is such high doses, DXM can produce dangerous side effects.

You may be thinking, how widespread is this issue? Studies have shown that one out of three teens knows someone who has abused OTC cough medicine to get “high” and approximately one out of 30 teens reports abusing it themselves.

So, how can you help prevent abuse? The first step is making yourself aware. DXM is found in more than 100 OTC medicines today. These medicines come in the form of liquids, capsules, gelcaps, lozenges, and tablets. You can find a list of products that contain DXM here, but the easiest and best ways to identify medicines that contain DXM are to:

  1. Look for the Stop Medicine Abuse icon on boxes and bottles of your medicines, and
  2. Read the Drug Facts label to see if dextromethorphan is included in the list of Active Ingredients

DXMIconOnce you know how to identify products that contain DXM, you can take additional steps to prevent medicine abuse. Want to learn more? Visit StopMedicineAbuse.org for additional resources and information.

JessicaBelitz

About Jessica Belitz:

Jessica is a community outreach coordinator for the Blount Memorial Foundation. As the manager of the Foundation’s Drug Free Communities (DFC) grant, Jessica’s passion for substance abuse prevention has grown. Now that she is the mother of her young daughter, Rory Bay, she is even more passionate about the issue, which is one of the reasons why she joined The Five Moms to support the Stop Medicine Abuse campaign. Join the conversation by following Stop Medicine Abuse on Facebook and Twitter.

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Heroin: What Parents Don’t Talk About

Posted by Sue Scheff on August 24, 2015  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Residential Therapy, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Help

ParentTeenNot my teen, it’s only marijuana.  It’s only prescription drugs.  It’s only….

That’s the way it usually starts.  One of the biggest misconceptions of heroin addicts, especially with teens and young people is that they are from bad neighborhoods, possibly homeless, and typically don’t have families that care for them.

According to the latest studies, heroin use is reaching epidemic proportions, moving away from the inner-city and into the suburbs, bringing along its deadly consequences.

Parents can sometimes be late to the game when they finally wake-up to admitting their child has a problem.  Heroin addiction is deadly.  Heroin addiction is growing and heroin is becoming more and more available to your  teenagers.  It’s cheaper, not only financially – but a cheap high too.

Drug use and abuse is not what it was when you were in school or in college.  If you continue to tell yourself that, it’s a mistake that you may regret.  This is not about creating fear into parents, but it’s about educating you.  Dealers on the street don’t want you to understand this – however knowing what is going to be available to your teen can help you talk to them about the risks and how things have changed since the 60’s and 70’s.

heroinfoilSo what do they consider the gateway to heroin?

According to Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, nearly half of young people who inject heroin surveyed in three recent studies reported abusing prescription opioids before starting to use heroin. Some individuals reported taking up heroin because it is cheaper and easier to obtain than prescription opioids.

In March 2015 another study was released revealing the death rate related to heroin overdose among young white men  (as young as 18 years old) was the highest in the Midwest.

Back in 2010 ABC News 20/20 ran a series on The New Faces of Heroin (watch the 8 minute part-one segment below).  It was extremely compelling.  If you believe that it can’t happen in your family, think again.  No one is immune.  Drug dealers don’t discriminate.  As a matter of fact, your teen may be the perfect catch for them.  Social media has added a new platform for them to connect with your child.  Don’t make the mistake that your teen would never do that.  It only takes one bad day, one bad break-up, or maybe they are being harassed and you don’t know about it.

Take the time to have those conversations.  You never know when you are potentially saving your child from making the biggest mistake of their lives.

Do you suspect your teen is using drugs?  Is it escalating out of control?  Have you exhausted your local resources?  It might be time for residential therapy.  Contact us for more information.  Don’t be a parent in denial.

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