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Teen Over-the-Counter Medication Abuse
Over-the-counter (OTC) medication abuse, like DXM abuse, has become very popular amongst teens. Which OTC drugs are abused? What do OTC statistics show?This article reviews these questions, plus how to prevent or get help for teen over the counter drug abuse.
Teens abusing legal substances to get high is nothing new. But glue sniffing and huffing paint fumes have given way to a dangerous and growing trend ? teen abuse of over-the-counter (OTC) medications.
The trend has spread so wide and the potential effects of teen OTC abuse are so deadly that the Partnership For a Drug Free America has launched a public awareness campaign to educate parents and teens about OTC risks.
A number of teens have died from overdosing on dextromethorphan, or DXM, an ingredient found in many OTC cough medications(1). Taken as directed, DXM safely relieves cold symptoms for tens of millions of Americans each year.
But in massive doses ingested by teen abusers this synthetic derivative of morphine causes a high similar to that of the hallucinogen PCP(2). DXM abuse also has been linked to at least one murder, when a hallucinating Nebraska teen allegedly stabbed a friend to death(3).
Which Medications Are Abused?
Other OTC medicines commonly abused by teens for a high or a temporary energy buzz include:
The Partnership For a Drug Free America 2005 attitude survey found that teens think abusing common OTC medicines is safer than using illegal drugs, and that teens are more likely to abuse OTC medications than many illicit drugs(4).
That may be because OTCs are readily available right in the teens' own home, inexpensively purchased online, or relatively easy to shoplift from stores(5).
How Pervasive is the Problem?
Some facts about the spread of teen OTC abuse:
The Partnership for a Drug Free America also found:
How to Prevent Teen OTC Abuse
Teens who learn a lot about the risks of drugs at home are up to 50 percent less likely to use drugs, so parents should educate themselves and discuss OTC abuse with their teens(4). Other prevention tips include:
Getting Help for Teen OTC Abuse
An OTC abuse problem is a drug abuse problem and should be handled as such. Treatment for OTC abuse should always be under the care of a physician or a licensed substance abuse treatment program.
No one should ever try to treat OTC abuse by going "cold turkey" or otherwise without professional help!
If you suspect your teen may be abusing OTC meds, the first step is to talk with your child. Express your concerns in a non-accusatory way.
Seek treatment options from your family doctor, your teen's school counselor, or the mental health division of your local public health department. They should be familiar with treatment programs and be able to refer your to one that fits your needs.
Related Article: Teen Drug Use / Abuse >>