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Talk to Your Teen About Medicine Abuse

Anne Parris is one of the partners of Midlife Boulevard. She’s happy to be the mom of four, the youngest two still at home and high-school aged. Yes, four teens. Read this post, originally published on Anne’s personal blog, Not A Supermom, about the important topic of teen medicine abuse. Please talk about OTC drug abuse with your own kids.

My-Teen-Isnt_Anne_VER-1As the start of each year I add up my kids’ ages and tabulate my Cumulative Parenting Experience. This year, my CPE is 74. I think this is a better indication of my parenting experience, (or as I call it, “Time Served”) than saying I’ve been a mother for 23 years.

I’ve have four 2-year-olds, four 3-year-old, etc., so I want credit for each of those experiences. I earned it in Barney songs and Pokemon movies and Girl Scout cookie booths in the snow.

My-Teen-Is_Anne_VER-1Last year was special since my youngest child, one of my daughters, became a teen. She was completely pleased to be all grown up, as she considered it, but I had some reservations. Her being my fourth teenager, I new the steps to this dance already.

While not all the teenage years are easy, there are some special rewards I embrace. Like having someone else to share the driving on a long trip, not ever having to wipe up whatever gross stuff comes out of them, and having people taller than me to reach the high shelves in the kitchen. My youngest has three inches on me, at least, so she’s an official top-shelf reacher.

Sometimes when people see me with all my kids, they’ll say, “Better you than me.” Absolutely, if that’s their attitude to having a lot of teens. My kids, and I think most teens in general, have a lot of great things going on.

My kids are all kind, well mannered, thoughtful people. They are great employees, good students, and concerned with what’s happening in the wider world. There’s so much right with kids today.

It’s always hard to change from a child from an adult. I think one of the things a teen needs is affirmation from her parents. Being a safe person for them to talk to keeps you solidly an active participant in their lives. You’re more likely to know what’s going on in their heads and in their hearts.

October is National Medicine Abuse Awareness Month. I partnered with CHPA to bring you information about their Stop Medicine Abuse Campaign. Did you know OTC medicine abuse by teen is kind of a big deal? Kids are taking OTC cough syrup containing Dextromethorphan (DMX) to get high. When I was in high school, it was called robo-ing.

What You Need to Know About Medicine Abuse

Approximately 1 in 25 teens reports abusing excessive amounts of DXM to get high. One in 3 knows someone who has abused cough medicine to get high.

What is DXM?

Dextromethorphan (DXM) is a safe and effective ingredient found in many over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicines. When abused, DXM can cause side effects including vomiting, stomach pain, mild distortions of color and sound, hallucinations, and loss of motor control.

What Can You Do to Prevent OTC Medicine Abuse?

Talking with your child is the best defense. Research shows that kids who learn about the dangers of drug use from their parents are fifty percent less likely to abuse drugs. So, talk with your kids in a real way, listen to what they say is going on at school and with their friends, and be aware of the slang of med abuse. DXM is often referred to as skittling, tussin, robo-tripping, CCC, triple Cs, and dexing.

Other Signs of Drug Abuse/OTC Medicine Abuse

Be aware so you can identify warning signs of 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

Participate in the Conversation

How to Participate

    1. Visit to and answer one of our questions about raising teens and tweens today
    2. Write down your answer on a large piece of paper
    3. Take a photo holding up your answer
    4. Upload it to the site
    5. Share your images on Twitter or Facebook and include the hashtag #ToMyTeen. Invite and encourage your friends and family to join the campaign

In addition, the Stop Medicine Abuse campaign will randomly pick 5 winners at the end of the month to win a $50 VISA gift card. Good luck!


Anne Parris

Anne Parris is a managing partner Midlife Boulevard. Her personal blog, Not A Supermom, is your typical mommy blog that her kids say used to be funnier. Anne has a business degree and a dusty résumé from a top accounting firm and a Fortune 500 company, which she reminds herself of every time she is washing underpants. She lives with her family in Virginia and blogs mostly to support her coffee habit.

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