We care about our children. We do everything in our power to protect them from the dangers of the world and we work hard to ensure their well-being. With all of the heart and time that goes into raising our kids, it can be scary to think that what we use to make them feel better can also be abused and cause them harm when they are in their teenage years.
As a mom and a school nurse, I know that it is important to keep medicines on-hand, especially during cold and flu season when germs are everywhere. But I also know that it is critical to make sure that we safeguard medicines after each use. It may seem inconvenient, but there are no exceptions. We can’t leave medicine on the nightstand ready for next middle-of-the-night dose. And we shouldn’t just leave medicine in the bathroom only to be forgotten about until the next cold hits. We have to be smarter than that, because many of the medicines that combat colds and the flu are also abused by teens. In fact, more than 100 over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicines contain the active ingredient dextromethorphan (DXM) , which one in 20 teens abuses to get high. You can find a list of products containing DXM on StopMedicineAbuse.org.
It may seem daunting, but we aren’t helpless in the fight against medicine abuse. There are measures we can take to keep our teens healthy and safe. Here are three easy ways to safeguard your family’s medicine during cold and flu season as well as throughout the year:
We may not be able to protect our teens from broken hearts, but we do have the power to prevent medicine abuse by securing and monitoring our medicines. How do you safeguard your medicines? Share your tips with us in the comments below!
In addition to being a school nurse, I work with the Five Moms to help educate parents and students in my community about teen cough medicine abuse. I like to use “teachable moments” – opportunities that come up at any time and provide an “in” for talking to your children – to make an impact.