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Teen Cough Medicine Abuse: What it Looks Like and Prevention

Posted by Sue Scheff on July 13, 2017  /   Posted in Teen Help

Teens and Cough Medicine Abuse: What Parents Need to Know

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.

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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