This Icon is Trying to Warn You About Teen Cough Medicine Abuse
By Stop Medicine Abuse
For more than a decade, the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) has leveraged the Stop Medicine Abuse initiative to address reports of teens abusing over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicine containing the active ingredient dextromethorphan (DXM) to get high. The campaign works to educate parents on this behavior and provide them with the information they need to help prevent such abuse.
DXM is a safe and effective ingredient when used according to the dosage instructions on the Drug Facts label. However, some teens believe that because DXM is available over-the-counter, it is less risky to abuse than illicit or prescription drugs. In reality, abusing DXM can result in dangerous side effects such as blurred vision, vomiting, slurred speech, decreased coordination, and more.
One of the most meaningful actions in the fight to stop this issue was taken by the manufacturers themselves. Ten years ago, many of the manufacturers who produce DXM-containing cough medicine voluntarily added the icon below to their packaging. The goal was to inform parents that the medicine contains DXM and has the potential to be abused by teens. By directing the parents to learn more at www.StopMedicineAbuse.org, the icon helps parents detect and prevent abuse in their families and communities.
Have you seen this icon?
National Medicine Abuse Awareness Month (NMAAM) is an annual campaign observed during the month of October. The goal of NMAAM is to raise public awareness of the dangers of prescription and OTC medicine abuse. CHPA’s partner, the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA), takes this month to reach parents, prevention specialists, community leaders, and coalition members across the country, encouraging them to take part in NMAAM by spreading awareness and taking the Dose of Prevention Challenge.
During NMAAM and beyond, we encourage you to read up on the substances teens are abusing and how you can prevent such abuse from happening. We then encourage you to share what you’ve learned with other parents, teachers, and community members. The more people who are aware of this issue, the more power we can have in stopping it and keeping our teens safe.
You can learn more about detecting and preventing OTC medicine abuse here. Stay updated on new studies and trends in teen behavior, advice for keeping teens away from risky behaviors, general parenting tips, and more by keeping up with Stop Medicine Abuse on Facebook, Twitter, and our blog.
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.
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.
Parents are concerned when their teen is experimenting with marijuana (and they should be), especially today when studies have shown it is more potent and can be addictive, however there is another drug that most parents have in their medicine cabinets that teens are getting high with.
Dextromethorphan (DXM) is a safe & effective ingredient found in many over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicines, but approximately one in 30 teens reports abusing excessive amounts of DXM to get high.
Is your teen Robo-tripping?
“Robo tripping” is one of several colloquialisms used to describe getting high from – of all things – cough medicine. Get it? “Robo” or Robitussin. The high comes from ingesting large doses of dextromethorphan, found in over-the-counter cough suppressants such as syrups and lozenges.
Warning signs of OTC cough medicine or other drugs:
Empty cough medicine boxes or bottles in the trash of your child’s room or in your child’s backpack or school locker;
Purchase or use of large amounts of cough medicine when not ill;
Missing boxes or bottles of medicine from home medicine cabinets;
Hearing your child use certain slang terms for DXM abuse, such as skittles, skittling, tussin, robo-tripping, robo, CCC, triple Cs, dexing, and DXM;
Visiting pro-drug websites that provide information on how to abuse DXM;
Internet orders, the arrival of unexpected packages, or unexplained payments by credit card or PayPal account;
Changes in friends, physical appearance, or sleeping or eating patterns;
Loss of interest in hobbies or favorite activities;
Hostile and uncooperative attitude;
Unexplained disappearance of household money; and
Unusual chemical or medicinal smells on your child or in his or her room.