The New Drug Talk You Need to Have With Your Child


Disclosure:  I received compensation for my participation in the Stop Medicine Abuse awareness month program.  However, the opinions in this post are my own, as always!

We all know that we’re supposed to talk to our kids about sex, about drugs, and about personal safety (and tech, of course.)  One thing I’ve realized about these “talks” is that they are rarely a sit-down-in-a-quiet-room-and-discuss-things kind of situation .  Questions come up all time.  While one broad discussion might be a good way to lay a foundation, you really have to be on your game and ready to answer more complex questions or confront more complicated situations as they come up.

And, you can’t have “the talk” just once.  The relevance and depth of these issues change as your kid get older.  The first sex talk is more about the birds and bees, and your body being your own, as they get older it becomes about about boundaries, safe sex, emotional and physical realities, and even internet porn.

The same is true for a talk about drugs.

When I think about drugs I think about pot and alcohol.  I know those are the two substances my kids are most likely to encounter.  Ecstasy, probably.   Cocaine, maybe.  Heroin, I doubt, but it’s possible. So, I would cover those bases, and try to be honest with my kids about my own experiences, within reason.

But what I never really thought about was abuse of over the counter medication, other than my kids accidentally getting into them when they were little.  But it turns out that OTC cough syrup is a major source of drug abuse because it contains Dextromethorphan (DXM), which basically makes you high in high enough dosages.  It’s relatively cheap, it’s legal and it’s easy to obtain – 3 things that make it an easy target for abuse.  And, teens take up to TWENTY-FIVE times the recommended dose to get high.

Stop Medicine Abuse Infographic

Since October is National Medicine Abuse Awareness Month, the Consumer Healthcare Products Association has launched the Stop Medicine Abuse campaign to alert parents and community members of the dangers of teens abusing OTC cough medicines.

But, as a parent you can be proactive!  Studies show that what parents say does matter. In fact, teens who learn about the risk of drugs from their parents are 50% less likely to use drugs. 

So have that talk!  Have many talks!

Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Talk with your teen about the dangers of OTC cough medicine abuse and monitor your medicine cabinets.
  • Listen to the language your kids use. DXM is often referred to as skittling, tussin, robo-tripping, CCC, triple Cs, and dexing. Check out the Stop Med Abuse site for a list of slang terms and conversation starters for parents.

Look out for these warning signs identified by Stop Medicine Abuse:

  • Empty cough medicine bottles/boxes in the trash of your child’s room, backpack, or school locker
  • Loss of interest in hobbies or favorite activities
  • Changes in friends, physical appearance, sleeping, or eating patterns
  • Declining grades
  • The first step in preventing this abuse is to EDUCATE yourself and your family. For more information and useful resources for parents, log onto

And you can follow @StopMedAbuse on Twitter and use #NotMyTeen for tips and advice on how to empower yourself and your teen.


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