By Stop Medicine Campaign
Parents are very perceptive… They pick up on almost everything and are always on the lookout. Common warning signs such as “No Trespassing” or “Caution” are signs that parents all look for to keep their children safe. But only 21% of parents know about this small warning icon:
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1 in 30 teens has abused over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicine containing the active ingredient dextromethorphan (also known as “DXM”) to get high. While recent survey results indicate a decline in this risky behavior, it is still happening so we must continue to fight it.
Teens may mistakenly believe that since OTC cough medicines are readily available and legal, they are a safer way to get high than abusing prescription or illicit drugs, which is incorrect. While DXM is a safe and effective ingredient when taken according to the labeling instructions, teens will sometimes consume excessive amounts—at times ingesting 25 times the recommended dosage—in order to feel the effects. This can lead to dangerous side effects such as blurred vision and decreased physical coordination. Not to mention additional side effects that can result from having too much of other active ingredients in the medicines, or from mixing DXM with alcohol or energy drinks.
While it’s difficult to think about our own children partaking in medicine abuse, we all need to be aware of this problem in order to prevent it. We should know:
- The warning signs to look out for so we can detect medicine abuse.
- The slang terms teens use to talk about medicine abuse under the radar.
- The steps to take to prevent medicine abuse.
The first step in preventing teen over-the-counter medicine abuse is becoming aware. That’s where the Stop Medicine Abuse icon comes in. Go to your medicine cabinet and check your shelf to see how many products you currently have in your home that include the icon. Take note of the quantity of each and be sure to check back often so you can more quickly notice if medicine goes missing without explanation. When shopping, if you see the icon on the packaging of cough medicine, you know that the product contains DXM and is one you should keep an eye on.
You can find more information on our website, including resources for spreading the word to others in your community. The more people who know about this problem, the more equipped we’ll be to help stop it.
Stop Medicine Abuse is a prevention campaign working to alert parents and members of the community about the problem of teen abuse of over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicines containing dextromethorphan (DXM). You can learn more by visiting the Stop Medicine Abuse website or connecting with the campaign on Facebook and Twitter.