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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.


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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