By Tammy Walsh, a mother, a high school math teacher and one of the Five Moms – an initiative of Stop Medicine Abuse.
Every year, we recognize October as National Medicine Abuse Awareness Month, and this year I would like to encourage communities to take part in helping to raise awareness about over-the-counter cough (OTC) medicine abuse. Unfortunately, it is an issue that often flies under parent’s radar. However, the fact is that roughly one out of three teenagers knows someone who has abused OTC cough medicine to get high.
Please join me in the fight against medicine abuse this month by taking the following actions:
1. Submit a pre-drafted letter to your local U.S. senators urging them to co-sponsor the PACT Act! U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) reintroduced the bi-partisan legislation to prohibit the sale of OTC cough medicines containing dextromethorphan (DXM) to anyone under the age of 18. Don’t forget to share with your friends and family and encourage them to do the same! Your support can positively impact your legislators’ involvement on this important issue.
2. Participate in the CADCA Twitter chat on October 7 at 2 p.m. ET. StopMedicineAbuse.org will be joining CADCA to share tools and resources for parents, educators and community officials as well as how we can collectively work together to prevent medicine abuse before it’s a problem. Follow @CADCA and @StopMedAbuse prior to the chat and tune into the conversation using the hashtag #PreventMedAbuse.
3. Host a local event in your community. Plan and promote an educational event, such as a town hall meeting for parents, youth and community advocates to educate them on the potential dangers associated with medicine abuse and to discuss prevention, intervention strategies and treatment. Don’t forget if your event addresses both prescription drug abuse and OTC cough medicine abuse to register for the CADCA 50 Challenge.
4. Take the Stop Medicine Abuse Pledge. Make a commitment to fight OTC cough medicine abuse by taking the pledge to start the conversation with your teen, track how much cough medicine you have in the house at all times and educate yourself on the risks and warning signs of medicine abuse.
5. Share resources with other parents in your community. Visit StopMedicineAbuse.org for audience-specific toolkits filled with resources on community prevention. I also encourage you to share The Partnership at Drugfree.org’s ‘Damaged Circuits’ video as well as presentations on medicine abuse with other parents in your community.
6. Like Stop Medicine Abuse on Facebook and Follow @StopMedAbuse on Twitter. Throughout October, we’ll be sharing up-to-date information, tools, and resources through our Facebook page and Twitter handle.