Tammy’s Tips for Talking to Teens About Medicine Abuse

Tammy’s Tips for Talking to Teens About Medicine Abuse

Today, roughly one out of three teenagers knows someone who has abused over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicine to get high. talking about medicine abuse to your teemsWhile over-the-counter cough medicines are used safely by millions of Americans for cough relief, the cough suppressant ingredient, dextromethorphan (DXM), can be abused by teens to get high.

I made it my personal mission to educate others on the dangers of substance abuse, including OTC cough medicine, after seeing too many drug-related tragedies in my community and one of my own son’s struggles with addiction. My son’s addiction is his story to tell, but the effect it has had on me and my family has inspired me to take action in my community.  As parents, we have a tremendous power to help keep our teens free from substance abuse, including OTC cough medicine abuse. The best prevention tool parents can utilize is a conversation with their teen.

While it can be difficult to start tough conversations with your teen about risky behaviors, such as drug, alcohol or medicine abuse, it is so important that you have these conversations with them early and often to help build their trust. If you are having trouble coming up with the right words to start the conversation, try one of our conversation starters that have worked for many parents. Additionally, in the video below you can check out my strategies and suggestions for parents on how to get the conversation started with your teen today!

To help stop medicine abuse, you can encourage other parents and community members to visit stopmedicineabuse.org for more educational information and resources. I also encourage you to “Like” the Stop Medicine Abuse Facebook page and follow us on Twitter – @StopMedAbuse


Five Moms’ Tammy Walsh is a mother of two and high school educator. After Tammy’s family was personally touched by over-the-counter cough medicine abuse, she founded the Northport Community Book Club and joined the Five Moms to help educate others about the dangers of OTC cough medicine abuse.


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