What Can Parents Do About DXM Abuse?
Although the subject of teen DXM abuse is grim, there is some good news. Recent surveys have shown that the number of teens abusing DXM seems to have stopped growing and leveled off. In a 2008 survey, the percentage of teens who said they saw cough medicine abuse as risky increased by over 6% in just one year. Some experts think that the message about DXM’s dangers is getting through.
The issue of DXM abuse has also been getting some political attention. A bill currently before Congress would outlaw the sale of raw DXM to individuals. Of course, this wouldn’t have any impact on kids who are getting their DXM in drugstores. Some advocacy groups have proposed further restrictions to tackle that problem, like age limits on the sale of products with DXM. Meanwhile, some stores have decided on their own to impose age restrictions or to keep DXM products behind the counter to discourage abuse and shoplifting.
As a parent, you can’t expect outside forces to resolve this problem. You have to take action. So what should you do?
Start by cleaning out your medicine cabinet and keeping an eye on how much medicine is in each bottle or package. Keep prescription and OTC medicines such as cough medicine away from your children’s reach and sight. Some parents decide to lock up their medicine cabinets like they do their liquor cabinets. But the most important thing is to talk with your kids.
“The best thing is education,” says Levine. “It’s so much better for kids to learn about the risks of drug abuse from a parent than from a peer. So look your kids in the eye and tell them that abusing drugs like DXM can have terrible risks, no matter what their friends are doing.” Stress that although OTC medications can have real benefits, they can have serious risks when not used as recommended.
Although it’s disturbing to know that 10% of teens have abused DXM, but keep in mind that 90% of teens haven’t. By talking about the risks of DXM abuse with your teens, you can help them stay in that healthy majority.