Keep Your Ears & Eyes Open for Warning Signs of Medicine Abuse

Stop Medicine Abuse

Some teens are consuming up to 25 times the recommended dosage of cough medicine containing the active ingredient dextromethorphan (DXM) to get high. You may be thinking, “not my teen,” but the reality is that one in four teens knows someone who has abused DXM to get high and one in 30 teens has abused DXM themselves. 

Teens may mistakenly believe that because DXM is legal and 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. These effects and others are increased to even more dangerous levels when cough
medicine is mixed with alcohol or energy drinks, which many abusers do to try and increase the effects of the “high.”

One of the ways you can help stop teen medicine abuse from happening in your home or community is by familiarizing yourself with the warning signs of abuse, such as: 

  • Empty cough medicine boxes or bottles in your teen’s room when they aren’t sick.
  • Missing boxes or bottles of cough medicine from your home without explanation.
  • Behavior shifts such as changes in friends, physical appearance, eating patterns, or loss of interest in their favorite hobbies.
  • Hearing your teen or their friends use any of these slang terms.

If you spot any of these warning signs in your teen, you’ll know you need to step in and talk to them about the dangers of substance abuse. By keeping our antennas up for warning signs and staying informed about this dangerous trend, we can all do our part to help prevent medicine abuse in our homes and communities. 

The Stop Medicine Abuse campaign encourages 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 have in keeping our teens safe.

You can learn more about detecting and preventing teens from abusing OTC cough medicine at 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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