As a teacher, I know that teens face difficult choices and various pressures – I see it every day at school. But what many educators aren’t aware of is that teens are turning to the medicine cabinet to get high. Teens are misusing and abusing over-the-counter cough medicines by taking more than 25 times the recommended dose. Dextromethorphan (DXM), a main ingredient in cough medicine, can be found in over 100 over-the-counter products. And, since these products are often more easily available than other substances, teens are abusing medicines containing DXM because many believe it is “less dangerous” to use than illegal drugs.
As scary as this trend sounds, the good news is that educators can actually have an impact on students’ decision-making and behavior. Believe it or not, teens may be more likely to listen their teacher than anyone else when it comes to sensitive issues like drug abuse.
While from the onset it seems like medicine abuse can be an intimidating issue to call attention to, it doesn’t have to be. Here are some steps you can take right now towards preventing medicine abuse in your school:
Learn about the dangers of medicine abuse: First and foremost, it is important to fully understand the issue at hand. Educating yourself and the serious risks of medicine abuse will allow you to effectively talk to teens, parents and other educators about this dangerous trend.
Learn the slang terms: There are a variety of terms that teens use when referring to medicine abuse. These can include words like “tussing”, “robo-tripping” or “skittling.” If you overhear students at your school mention , they may be discussing over-the-counter cough medicine abuse.
Look out for warning signs. Declining grades, uncooperative attitudes and changes in friends or physical appearances could be . Since educators see students frequently, they may be more likely to notice changes that others don’t. Know that it is okay to pull a student aside and ask if everything is okay, or if he or she would like to talk. Sometimes, teens simply need someone who they can confide in, and this is a good way for you to figure out if there is a problem – and how serious it is.
Talk to other educators. Awareness leads to prevention! If there are other educators at your school who are not aware of this dangerous problem, talk to them about the risks. Educators have the power to bring this issue to the attention of the rest of the community. At Stop Medicine Abuse, we have for educators to help spread the word and fight over-the-counter cough medicine abuse.
Do you have tips for talking to teens about medicine abuse? Let us know in the comments below!
This is a guest post from Tammy Walsh. Tammy is a mother of two, a high school math teacher and a contributor to on . Tammy has a passion for addressing the issue of substance abuse openly and honestly with parents and teens. Through her work with The Five Moms, she hopes to reach more parents on a national level, educating and empowering them with the tools to make positive change in their communities. Join the conversation by following Stop Medicine Abuse on and .
photo credit: Heiwa elementary school 平和小学校 _22 via photopin (license)