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Stop Medicine Abuse

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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Skittling: It May Not Be What You Think

Posted by Sue Scheff on May 25, 2016  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Residential Therapy, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

By Blaise Brooks

Skittling2Skittling. If you’re like most parents, you probably don’t have the faintest idea of what this word could possibly signify. Maybe a poor attempt at verbalizing the act of eating Skittles? Don’t let your sweet tooth kick in quite yet! Among many other terms, “skittling” has come to signify the abuse of over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicines containing the active ingredient dextromethorphan (DXM).

While these medicines are safe and effective when taken as directed, they can produce harmful side effects when taken excessively. Some teens intentionally take large amounts of DXM – sometimes more than 25 times the recommended dose. In fact, one out of three teens reports knowing someone who has abused medicine containing DXM to get high, while one out of 30 teens has abused it themselves. Unfortunately, this issue is more prevalent than most people realize. Next time you’re around your teen, be sure to keep an ear out for the following common slang terms that are used to describe DXM misuse and abuse:

  • Skittling, Robo-dosing, Dexing: Terms for abusing products with DXM
  • Syrup head, Robotard: Terms to describe someone who abuses DXM
  • Robo, Tussin, Velvet: Terms to reference cough syrups with DXM
  • Red devils, Red hots: Terms to reference capsules or tablets that contain DXM

You can find a full list of the many slang words used for DXM abuse here.

If you hear your teen using this slang, it’s important to have an open and honest conversation about the risks of abusing DXM, including the potential side effects. You can also visit WhatIsDXM.com with your teen to watch and discuss stories from real teens who have abused DXM. You have the power to ensure your teen is educated, so that he or she can confidently make smart and safe decisions.

Learn more about how to prevent teen OTC cough medicine abuse at StopMedicineAbuse.org.

Skittling
Contributor: Blaise 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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Teens Sharing Prescription Drugs

Posted by Sue Scheff on June 29, 2015  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Struggling Teen Help, Teen Help, Troubled Teens

OTCmeds5The Perfect High.

It seems fairly innocent, after all a doctor prescribed the medication.  Is that how teens will excuse the use of a prescription drug?

Smoking marijuana is unfortunately common among many tweens and teens, however just behind that is the use of prescription drugs.

Sometimes these prescription drugs are easily found in a grandparents home or even your own medicine cabinet.  Have you seen the recent movie on Lifetime – The Perfect High? It covers all these bases of how teens are very resourceful and creative when it comes to finding prescription medication.  It will also give you the deadly road that they can end up on.

When teens want medicine to help clear up their acne or a strong painkiller for a headache, an alarming number of them skip the doctor and borrow prescription medication from friends, according to a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Researchers based their study on a survey of approximately 1,500 U.S. boys and girls between the ages of 9 and 18. They found that roughly 19.7% of girls and 13.4% of boys actually borrow or share prescription medicine with both friends and family.

teens sharing pillsConsider these additional findings from the study, published in the journal Pediatrics:

  • About 7% of older teen girls (aged 15-18) reported sharing prescription medication more than three times.
  • Eleven percent of the girls aged 12 to 18 admitted one reason they shared medications is they wanted “something strong for pimples or oily skin.”
  • Nearly two-thirds of those surveyed reported they received prescription medication from a family member.

A survey of 12 to 17-year-olds in the U.S. has found that about 20 percent said they have given their prescription drugs like Oxycontin and Darvocet to friends or obtained drugs the same way, according to a study published online in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

Allergy drugs, narcotic pain relievers, antibiotics, acne medications, antidepressants, and anti-anxiety medications were the most commonly shared. About one-third of those who borrowed medications said they had experienced an allergic reaction or other negative side-effects as a result.

ParentsTalkingTeensPast research has shown that 40 percent of adults also share their medications.  Parents needs to remember their children are always watching and listening to them.

Tips for Parents

According to the CDC study, most of the adolescents surveyed said they actually had their own prescription for the medication they borrowed from friends. They said they borrowed the medication because they either didn’t have the medication with them or they ran out of it. Others said they shared medicine because they “had the same problem as the person who has the medicine.”

What is the harm in sharing prescription drugs? The Nemours Foundation reports that drugs are tools doctors use to fight infection, treat disease and relieve pain. The right drug, however, must be given to the right child, for the right condition, and taken in the right amount and under the right circumstances to work well.

Taking another person’s prescribed medication puts a teen at risk for overdose, allergic reactions, hazardous interactions with other medications and dangerous health side effects. In fact, the CDC study reported that many teens share the acne drug Accutane, which can result in severe fetal birth defects if a pregnant teen takes only one dose.

As a parent, it is important to familiarize yourself with the basic elements of a prescription:

  • How much of and how often the medicine should be taken
  • What the side effects and reactions are, if any
  • How the medicine should be taken
  • How the medicine should be stored

If your doctor prescribes medication for your teen, always look at it carefully before you leave the pharmacy. The Nemours Foundation offers these additional questions to ask your pharmacist:

  • Does this medication require special storage conditions (room temperature or refrigeration)?
  • How many times a day should it be given? Should it be given with food? Without food?
  • Should my teen avoid dairy products when taking this medication?
  • Should I look for any special side effects? What should I do if I notice any of these side effects?
  • Should my teen take special precautions, such as avoiding exposure to sunlight, when taking this medication?
  • What should I do if my teen skips a dose?
  • Is it OK to cut pills in half or crush them to mix into foods?
  • Will this medicine conflict with my teen’s alternative treatment of herbal remedies?

To ensure that your teen is using his or her prescription medicine safely, the National Clearinghouse for Drug & Alcohol Information suggests reviewing the following information with your teen and or your physician:

  • Talk with your physician about any other drugs – prescription, over-the-counter or illegal – you are taking. Drugs may interact negatively with one another, causing harmful side effects and even causing medications to be ineffective.
  • Discuss your medical history with your doctor. Side effects caused by some drugs may worsen other health conditions, even if the medication is used properly. For example, some prescription medications may elevate the user’s blood pressure, causing a serious consequence if the user already suffers from high blood pressure.
  • Read the instructions that come with your medication carefully and take the drug exactly as recommended.
  • Do not give your prescription medications to other people, and never take prescription drugs that have not been prescribed to you by a physician.
  • Throw out expired or leftover medicines.

References

If your teen is struggling with a prescription drug problem, don’t hesitate to reach out for local help.  If they refuse to get help or you find it isn’t benefiting them, contact us to determine if residential therapy would be an option.   Exhausting your local resources is always your first path.

StopMedicineAbuse.org is another great website full of information for parents on over the counter drug abuse.

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Cough Syrup: The Other Teen Drug Abuse

Posted by Sue Scheff on June 14, 2015  /   Posted in Parenting Teens, Struggling Teen Help

StopMedAbuse55Parents 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.

Cough medicine.

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;
  • Declining grades;
  • 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.

StopMedAbuse2Resources courtesy of StopMedicineAbuse.org.

If you suspect your teen is abusing substances, don’t hesitate to reach out for help.  If you have an emergency, call 911.

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