By Becky Dyer
Becky Dyer is a police officer with experience as a former D.A.R.E and school resource officer in Reno County, Kansas. She is working with Stop Medicine Abuse’s Five Moms to raise awareness about cough medicine among teens in her community and across the country.
Did you know that approximately 5 percent of teens abuse over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicine to get high? Or that 37 percent of teens do not consider regular marijuana use to be harmful? Recently, the National Institute on Drug Abuse released its 2012 Monitoring the Future report. This report surveyed teens across the country about their attitudes and behaviors when it comes to drug, alcohol, and medicine abuse, and it is an invaluable resource for parents, teachers, and health professionals because it lets us know exactly what is going on in their world.
But being informed isn’t enough. As parents, we need to talk to our children about dangerous or risky behaviors. It isn’t always easy to know where to start, so I wanted to share my top 3 tips for talking to your teens about drug and medicine abuse:
- Use information as a starting point: Monitoring the Future shows that approximately 5percent of teens abuse over-the-counter cough medicine to get high, so ask your children what they think about that statistic. Have they heard their friends talking about “robo-tripping” or “dexxing?” – slang terms for abusing OTC medicine containing the cough suppressant dextromethorphan. Do they understand the risks and dangers?
- Ask your teens what they would do if they were at a gathering where prescription, OTC, or street drugs were being abused. Assess their answer and give them more ideas, such as attending parties with friends who they know will not abuse drugs and who will leave the party if things get out of hand, or even calling a parent, if needed. Make sure your suggestions do not make them feel as if their answer is wrong because any step they take to avoid drugs is the right one.
- Encourage, encourage, encourage your teens to be proud of themselves, love who they are, and appreciate their gifts. The biggest gift you can give them is by being a supportive, interested parent. We must make our kids our first priority, and give them the security of knowing that they are always our first concern. Once they know that, they will make you their first priority or resource in a crisis situation.
This report surveyed over 45,000 teens in 400 schools across the country – so odds are you might know one of them. That’s why it’s so important to start an honest conversation about these topics. Visit our Stop Medicine Abuse Facebook page to share your best strategies for talking to teens!