Is There a Drug Dealer in Your Medicnine Cabinet?

Parenting teens.  It’s hard, you guys. Way harder than I ever imagined, and I’m quite the overacting type. Really, it’s kind of my thing.

We try to keep them safe, try to educate ourselves on the new dangers that seem to crop up incessantly.  Take drugs, for instance.  Everyone knows to watch out for the drug dealers on the corners, right?  But, what if the drugs they might be getting that aren’t illegal?

What if the new danger  is currently residing in your medicine cabinet at home?  What if it’s something they can get on a seemingly innocent trip to Walgreens or Rite Aid?

October is National Medicine Abuse Awareness Month. Thanks to the ongoing work of the organization Stop Med Abuse, whose website and continuing prevention efforts are funded by the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, my eyes have been opened to the dangers of the “recreational” abuse of Over the Counter (OTC) medicines by teens.

Cough syrup, y’all.  If taken in large enough doses, it can seriously mess you up.  And teens are doing just that, at an alarming rate.

The hidden culprit is dextromethorphan, aka (DXM).  Now, DMX is a safe and effective ingredient found in many over-the-counter cough syrups.  Trouble is, an overabundance of DMX can also result in hallucinations, mild distortions of color and sound, loss of motor control, vomiting, stomach pain.  For some teens, the “high” appears worth the risk.

It’s estimated that 1 in 20 teens reports using excessive amounts of DMX to get high.  One in 3 knows someone who has used cough medicine to get high. “Not my kid!” you say?  Lord, we hope not.  But those numbers come from somewhere.  Those are SOMEBODY’s kids.

Now, this may not be a new thing…but some of the terminology teens are using for this behavior IS new, and knowing the slang as parents gives us a weapon against it. The infographic lists some of the colorful “code” currently being used in school hallways, on cell phones and via text.  Skittling. Red devils.  Robo-tripping.  Tussin.  Triple C’s and dexing.

Keep your eyes and ears open, folks. Listen to your kids. If you see empty bottles in trash cans and backpacks, notice a change in physical appearance, friend interaction or see declining grades, pay attention.  I know I will…even though I hope I never, ever have to face this.

Most importantly, though?  TALK to them. I asked my teens -under our house, “I ask. you tell. We’ll both be cool about it.” rule- if they knew what some of those terms where, or if they knew of anyone who might have tried OTC meds to get high. They did, on both counts. I made sure to share the dangers, hopefully helping them “get it”.  I certainly let them know that I DO and I’ll be around, keeping an eye out and always here to talk. Teens are funny people. You can’t drag a conversation out of them most of the time, but they still want to know they can talk to you. Whatevs <—had to stick that in there to make them cringe, they love it when I try to talk “cool”.

My advice, talk. Talk even if they don’t. Talk even if you don’t think they are listening. It could mean the difference between a bad cold…and a whole lot worse.


For more information and useful resources for parents, log onto,”like” Stop Medicine Abuse on Facebook, and follow @StopMedAbuse on Twitter.  We are using and promoting the hashtag #NotMyTeen all month because we are trying to empower parents to be sure it isn’t their teen.

This post was sponsored in part by I was compensated for my time, but this message would have been shared had no compensation been offered. This is stuff ALL parents need to know.