I’ve recently realized that I am quite out of touch when it comes to the newest lingo teenagers are using. When I was teaching in a high school I’d see all the latest fashions paraded in my classroom, know all about the musicians my students were obsessed with, and I’d hear their teenage slang in the hallways and see it written in their English essays–that one was painful, I’ll admit. Since I’m no longer teaching in a classroom and my kids are very young, what’s cool, new, and in-the-now with teens is quite a mystery to me. What about you? Would you know what your teen was talking about if they said kids were “Dexing”? How about “Skittling?”
Naively I would think they are talking about a new dance move, but I would be so very wrong. Because these two phrases are actually terms teens use to talk about abusing over-the-counter medicines that contain dextromethorphan (DXM). Feeling out of touch right now? Me too.
Since October is National Medicine Abuse Awareness Month, now is the time to empower yourself with the knowledge to help your kids (even if they are really young) to know the dangers and for you as a parent to spot the warning signs of OTC abuse of DXM
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- Approximately 1 in 30 teens have abused cough medicine to get high, and one in three teens in grades 9-12 knows someone who has abused cough medicine to get high.
- In 2010, 65 percent of teens agreed that DXM was “very/fairly easy to get.” That number has since gone down to 41 percent.
- Taken in excessive doses, DXM has intoxicating, dissociative, and psychoactive properties. Teens report taking up to 25 times or more of the recommended dose of cough medicine to get high. Side effects from abuse include nausea and vomiting, distortions of color and sound, hallucinations, and loss of motor control. When combined with other substances (drugs and alcohol), it can be very dangerous and even lethal.
But the one fact that stuck out to me the most: Teens who learn a lot about the risks of drugs from their parents are 50 percent less likely to use drugs. According to StopMedicineAbuse.org when teens want to know more about drugs, it’s not their parents they turn to. Teenagers are almost three times as likely to trust their friends as a source of information than their family (this means sibbling too). They also turn to their most trusted source, a good old Goolge search. Here’s what parents need to know.
- Online search for DXM peaks during two times of year, aligning with back-to-school time: September/October and January/February.
- Teens look to YouTube, social media, and online discussion forums like Erowid.com to get info.
- Teens are more themselves on their mobile device and on platforms away from their parents. They use different channels to manage their online reputation and to keep some privacy. Say gooodbye to the days of the journal hidden in their room.
- 26% of teens agree strongly/somewhat that taking non-prescription cough/cold medicine to get high is something cool kids do, down from 29 percent in 2011. an overwhelming majority of teens have hidden online activities from parents (79 %).
The kids seeking out this info are referred to as “fence sitters.” They are very curious, want to know more, but they haven’t tried dexing yet. What are they finding online is actually going to surpirse you. Thanks to the amazing efforts of the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) and StopMedicineAbuse.org, teens will find the award-winning effort WhatisDXM.com and not the regular websites that talk about how to use the drugs.
Fence sitters will find real-life testimonials, games, apps, and bait-and-switch videos interrupt teens’ searches and change their perceptions of cough medicine abuse. Pretty amazing, right? Today, teen abuse of OTC cough medicine is at an all-time low and it’s because of CHPA and StopMedicineAbuse.org efforts. Because this generation of teens worries so much about image to peers and social media is like breathing to them, WhatisDXM.com shows the awful side of cough medicine abuse: sloppy teenagers annoying their friends by acting stupid, saying dumb things, and even throwing up on themselves. No teen with a fragile ego wants that sort of embarrassment in front of their friends or posted online.
WhatisDXM.com uses the negative perception of DXM abuse and teens’ fear of social disapproval to make DXM more undesirable and it’s really reaching these teens:
- Teens have directly engaged with this content online (viewed, shared, clicked, commented) more than 21 million times, visited the website one million times, and the apps have been downloaded almost 300,000 times.
Parents, need a way to talk to your kids? Want more info? Here’s a list of amazing resources to help you get those conversations started.
Stop Medicine Abuse on Pinterest
Stop Medicine Abuse on Facebook
Stop Medicine Abuse on Twitter @StopMedAbuse #StopMedAbuse
Main website: http://www.whatisdxm.com/
YouTube channel with all videos – including teen perspective:https://www.youtube.com/user/DXMstrs
Facebook app (2.5 minute experience that scrapes your Facebook page for a simulated real-world experience, must log in via your Facebook page):http://sipitup.me/
Trailer for mobile app DXM Labworks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-boIyNwaV-Q
This post is sponsored by the CHPA educational foundation,KnowYourOTCs.org but all opinions are my own.