Stop Teen Medicine Abuse

five-moms

What do a school nurse, an accountant, a law enforcement officer, a high school math teacher, and an author — from all over the country — have in common? Teenagers abusing over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicine to get high.

This group of women called the Five Moms is working to educate parents across the country about teen OTC cough medicine abuse and the importance of talking to children about dangerous behaviors. We spoke with one of the moms, Christy Crandell, who was directly affected by teen cough medicine abuse.

What many of us don't know is that one out of 20 teens reports abusing over-the-counter medicine to get “high.”

Christy Crandall is a mom like you and me. She raised her two sons, Ryan and Justin, in a suburban community. She worked from home, was on their Little League board, ran the snack bar at games, and volunteered at both her sons' schools– she had the “close with my kids” box checked.

Fast forward to three months after her oldest son Ryan's 18th birthday, and everything changed. Christy says, “Ryan was arrested for armed robbery while high on OTC cough medicine and marijuana. Needless to say, we were shocked, and it suddenly became clear that our son wasn't nearly as open with us as we had thought. There was a large part of his life that he kept from us: he had a substance abuse problem.”

What many of us don't know is that one out of 20 teens reports abusing over-the-counter medicine to get “high.” One of the biggest culprits is cough medicines that contain the cough suppressant dextromethorphan (DXM). Over 100 medicines contain DXM – many of us have several in our homes, and we don't even realize it.

According to the Partnership Attitude Tracking Study (PATS) released by The Partnership at Drugfree.org and MetLife Foundation, more than a quarter of teens (27 %) mistakenly believe that misusing and abusing prescription drugs is safer than using street drugs. The kicker is that one in six parents (16 %) share that misconception.

It's this sticking point that fuels the Five Moms initiative and is what drew Christy to them. Christy explains, “After Ryan's arrest (Ryan, now in his 20s, is currently serving his prison sentence inFolsom State Prison for the actions he took while under the influence), I quit my job and made it my mission to educate other parents and share my family's story.

“Would I have been able to prevent him from going down that path if I had been more aware of the potential dangers?”

I had never even imagined cough medicine abuse as a possibility. I couldn't help but think, ‘Would I have been able to prevent him from going down that path if I had been more aware of the potential dangers?' I learned the hard way, and I want to ensure that other parents don't have to learn about cough medicine abuse the way that I did.”

The Five Moms encourage parents to talk to their teens, to monitor their medicines, and to discuss the problem with other parents and community leaders. On their blog, they talk openly about challenges that parents face in getting through to teens and offer advice on how we can all work together to prevent OTC cough medicine abuse in our homes and communities.

teen medicine abuse

These women are truly working together to make a difference. But, as with most parenting-related things, we have to start with ourselves. Christy says, “More than anything, I hope that my work with the Five Moms initiative will prevent other parents from having to learn the hard way.

I want to show parents that it's never okay to think, “Not my teen.”

I want to show parents that it's never okay to think, ‘Not my teen.' I want parents to understand that denial and lack of awareness can lead to unfortunate outcomes. As parents, the greatest tool we have to fight drug abuse and addiction is education. We must educate ourselves, and we must educate other parents.”

Katie Hurley, LCSW, cautions, “This is not a one-time conversation. This topic requires frequent discussion, and you should always leave your door open to your child.” And this door is one that stays propped open with more ease with our own practice and comfort in discussing this topic that can truly affect every one of us. For tips on how to start the dialogue, recognize warning signs, monitor your medicines, and to find out more about the Five Moms initiative, read their blog and follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

What do you think?

Stop Teen Medicine Abuse

Galit Breen is the author of Kindness Wins, a simple no-nonsense guide to teaching our kids how to be kind online. She has a master's degree in education and a bachelor's degree in human development and was a classroom and reading teacher for ten years. In 2009, she launched a career as a freelance writer entrenched in social media. Since then, her work has been featured in various online magazines including Brain, Child, The Huffington Post, TIME, and xoJane. Breen lives in Minnesota with her h ... More

Tell us what you think!

×

EverydayFamily.com Week-by-Week Newsletter

Receive weekly updates on your pregnancy or new baby’s development as well as Free Stuff, Special Offers, Product Samples, Coupons, Checklists and Tools you can use today, and more from EverydayFamily! Plus all new members are entered to win FREE diapers for a year! Receive weekly updates on your pregnancy or new baby’s development as well as Free Stuff, Special Offers, Product Samples, Coupons, Checklists and Tools you can use today, and more from EverydayFamily! Plus all new members are entered to win FREE diapers for a year!

Due Date or Baby's Birth Date


By clicking the "Join Now" button you are agreeing to the terms of use and privacy policy.

Send this to a friend