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Stop Medicine Abuse

The Icon: Teen Medicine Abuse

Posted by Sue Scheff on October 10, 2018  /   Posted in Teen Drug Use, Teen Help

This Icon is Trying to Warn You About Teen Cough Medicine Abuse

Help Your Teens STopMedAbuse3 The Icon: Teen 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.

 

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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 Connection Between Online Safety and Teen Medicine Abuse

Posted by Sue Scheff on January 19, 2017  /   Posted in Internet Safety, Teen Help

Online Safety and Teen Medicine Abuse

As parents of teenagers, we know that it’s not unusual for teens to spend time online chatting with friends, visiting social networking sites, following sports or celebrities and – hopefully – doing their homework.

While this might not seem worrisome, the digital world is a space where anyone can say anything, and teenagers don’t always evaluate whether the information they are exposed to is true or false. There are many dangers lurking online, including websites that promote how to abuse over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicine to achieve a “high.” In fact, there are online communities in which users share and glorify their medicine abuse experiences, which may influence teens to engage in this dangerous activity.

It’s impossible to be aware of all your teen’s online activities, but you can help reduce the risk of your teen being exposed to the promotion of OTC cough medicine abuse by taking the following actions:

Educate yourself on the issue:

It is important to first understand the dangers and warning signs of OTC cough medicine abuse. Look out for pro-drug sites that promote and provide instructions for the abuse of dextromethorphan (DXM), the active ingredient in many OTC cough medicines. These sites spread false information about DXM, leading teens to believe it is safer to abuse than illicit drugs. Stay alert for internet orders, the arrival of unexpected packages and unexplained payments.

Help Your Teens STOPMedAbuse8 The Connection Between Online Safety and Teen Medicine Abuse

Educate yourself on the space:

Teens are quick adopters of new platforms and technology, which can make it difficult to keep up with their online lives. You can better recognize dangerous online communities by knowing what platforms your teen is using as well as how these platforms are used. You can learn more about the number of websites and online communities that promote OTC medicine abuse here.

Talk to your teen about internet safety:

Once you have a firm grasp on the issue of medicine abuse, visit and discuss websites like WhatIsDXM.com, drugfree.org and StopMedicineAbuse.org with your teen. This way, your teen has the facts about substance abuse and knows where to access credible information. Teens who learn about the risks of drugs from their parents are 50% less likely to use drugs. Having regular conversations with your teen can make a big difference.

Connect with your teen online:

Follow and connect with your teen on social media. They may not be open to this initially, but they might be more accepting to the idea if you assure them that you’ll respect their space. This will also open up an opportunity for you to model good online behavior to you teen.

Spread the word:

Share what you learned about OTC medicine abuse with other parents and members of your community. This will enable others to have these important conversations with their teens and, in turn, ensure that more teens are practicing safe behavior online.

Even though it might not seem like it, teenagers look to their parents for support and guidance. Setting up guidelines around what behavior is and is not acceptable online will help ensure your teen is being smart and safe no matter what new media comes along.

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. Join the conversation by following Stop Medicine Abuse on Facebook and Twitter.

 

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Preventing Teen Medicine Abuse

Posted by Sue Scheff on December 02, 2016  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Teen Help

Preventing Teen Medicine Abuse

Help Your Teens StopMedAbuse6-300x157 Preventing Teen Medicine Abuse Awareness of a problem is the first step to solving it. Parents were recently spreading the word about teen over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicine abuse for National Medicine Abuse Awareness Month. Although October has come and gone, we can still continue to spread awareness and help other parents of teenagers just like us become aware of this serious issue.

While the abuse of OTC medicines doesn’t often receive the same media attention as the abuse of alcohol, marijuana or prescription medications, it’s still a common practice among today’s teens. In fact, one in 25 teenagers reports getting “high” by consuming up to 25 times the suggested amount of cough medicine.

Help Your Teens Stopmedabuse65-300x165 Preventing Teen Medicine Abuse Why the abuse of cough medicine?

Many teens believe that abusing cough medicine is less harmful than using other drugs because it’s legal and easy to attain. Unfortunately, they’re misinformed. Most cough medicine contains the active ingredient dextromethorphan (DXM), which has dangerous effects when taken in excess, such as hallucinations, vomiting, sweating and memory loss. The risks only get worse when DXM is combined with other substances, such as drugs or alcohol.

Here’s another problem. Due to the fact that cough medicine can be obtained easily and inexpensively, it’s an attractive choice for teen users. It’s also much easier to hide from parents. What parent would suspect risky behavior when they see an empty bottle of cough medicine in the trash? Unfortunately, only 50% of parents are aware of DXM abuse at all.

The  Stop Medicine Abuse campaign released this short but significant video highlighting one way parents can become more informed and help prevent abuse at home:

The Stop Medicine Abuse icon is included on OTC products, which contain DXM. Even without any knowledge of DXM, this icon alerts parents to stay vigilant about the potential for abuse.

With the hashtag #CheckYourShelf, the video encourages parents to monitor the amount of cough medicine in their home, safeguard their medicine cabinets and safely dispose of old/unused medicines. It also urges parents to check themselves by asking the following questions:

  • Am I aware of my teen’s habits and tendencies?
  • Do I have the kind of relationship where I can ask my teen important questions around risky behavior?
  • How can I start these conversations with my teen?

Informing parents about DMX abuse is the first step in preventing it. As the temperature drops and colds become more frequent, let’s continue to spread awareness about this critical issue, so parents know how the cough medicine in their home is being used.

You can get more information at www.StopMedicineAbuse.com 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 organizations 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 parent of three teenagers. Join the conversation by following Stop Medicine Abuse on Facebook and Twitter.

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Check Your Shelf To Help Prevent Medicine Abuse

Posted by Sue Scheff on September 08, 2016  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

Medicine Cabinet and Teens

With summer nearly over and an impending cold season on the horizon, millions of Americans will self-treat their symptoms with over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicine that contains dextromethorphan (DXM). While DXM can do wonders for a cough when taken according to labeling instructions, it can also be abused to get “high” when consumed in large amounts.

Abusing DXM poses serious health implications and causes concerning side effects such as nausea, vomiting, confusion, rapid heartbeat and disorientation. Despite the risks, one out of every 30 teens reports abusing DXM and one out of three teens knows someone who has abused the substance.

Like all forms of substance abuse, there are measures that parents can put in place to help prevent it. However, when it comes to OTC cough medicine abuse, a study conducted by David Binder Research shows that less than half of parents take steps to prevent medicine abuse in their homes.

Help Your Teens CHPA-CheckYourShelf2-368x1024 Check Your Shelf To Help Prevent Medicine Abuse

Establishing a clear monitoring system is essential to preventing medicine abuse in your home. If you happen to fall in the 50 percent of parents who are not yet enacting protective measures, here are a few tips from Stop Medicine Abuse for checking your shelf:

Only together can we ensure the health and safety of our teens. So, after checking your shelf, make sure to share these tips and spread awareness about OTC cough medicine abuse with other parents in your community. For additional medicine abuse prevention resources and parenting tips, don’t forget to visit Stop Medicine Abuse.

Contributor: Blaise Brooks is a mother of one, caregiver of two, accountant and community advocate. Blaise is also a contributor to The Five Moms blog on StopMedicineAbuse.org, working to spread the word about cough medicine abuse with other parents. Join the conversation by following Stop Medicine Abuse on Facebook and Twitter.

 

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Look Closer: Recognizing OTC Medicine Abuse

Posted by Sue Scheff on August 18, 2016  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Teen Help

Teen Medicine Abuse

Help Your Teens StopMedAbuse2 Look Closer: Recognizing OTC Medicine Abuse Do you know who your teen is hanging out with? Have your teen’s hobbies changed dramatically? These are important aspects of teens’ lives that parents should be aware of – especially when it comes to detecting signs of potential substance abuse.

Substance abuse can take many forms. While abuse of alcohol, marijuana, prescription and illicit drugs generally takes the spotlight in mainstream media, the abuse of over-the-counter (OTC) medicine is one that parents should pay attention to as well.

OTC cough medicines, which contain the active ingredient dextromethorphan (DXM), might be perceived to be “safer” to abuse as they are generally more affordable and easily accessible as compared to other substances. However, even though DXM is safe and effective when taken according to labeling instructions, over-consumption of DXM for the purpose of getting high can produce damaging side effects.

Being aware of your teen’s emotional, physical and mental state is essential to preventing any form of substance abuse. Teens who are at risk tend to display a specific array of warning signs. But how do we discern between a red flag and a fluke? This significant distinction can be tough for parents.

To get you started, take a look at the following infographic from Stop Medicine Abuse:

Help Your Teens LookCloser Look Closer: Recognizing OTC Medicine Abuse

As parents, it’s up to us to create an atmosphere that is safe for our teens. Now that you know what to look for, which questions to ask and how to make a difference, will you do your part? If you’re ready to help stop medicine abuse among our teens, make sure to visit StopMedicineAbuse.org for more tips and resources.

About Tammy Walsh:
Five Moms’ Tammy Walsh is a mother of two and high school educator. After Tammy’s family was personally touched by over-the-counter cough medicine abuse, she founded the Northport Community Book Club and joined the Five Moms to help educate others about the dangers of OTC cough medicine abuse.

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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

Teens and Cough Syrup Abuse

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

Help Your Teens DXMIcon The Stop Medicine Abuse Icon: An Easy Way to Identify Medicines that Contain DXM Once 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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