It goes without saying that parenting a teenager is already challenging enough. From making sure that they keep up with their studies, to allowing them to fit in with their peers, finding the balance between “cool parenting” and “disciplinarian” can be challenging. Naturally, one of the most common things that parents of teens fear is them using drugs or alcohol. While most parents try to have “the talk” about the various drugs and alcohol substances to steer clear of, many of them overlook one of the most commonly used things by their teens – over the counter medications.
Your very own medicine cabinet could ultimately turn into the source for your teen’s drug abuse. Over the counter medications are a lot easier to purchase, and even easier to access. Anything from cough syrup and diet pills to pain killers and sleeping pills can be consumed by your teen and ultimately cause a dependence or addiction. In fact, the University of Cincinnati points out that approximately 10 percent of all adolescents have abused over the counter medications. So before you assume that it’s not your child, it’s probably best to get informed.
Detecting Your Teen is Abusing OTC Medications
Knowing the warning signs to pay attention to could be the difference between disciplining your child at home for their use and having them treated in a rehab facility for their addiction. While it can be difficult to discern what “typical teenage behavior” is and what isn’t, these signs below can help you pinpoint when there may be trouble:
- Medications are suddenly missing from your medicine cabinet
- Changes in their sleeping patterns
- Over the top mood swings (meaning one moment they’re happy the next they’re angry)
- Over obsessing about privacy
- Sluggish mannerisms
- Slurred or Rambling Speech
- Nausea or vomiting
While most of these can be chalked up to teenage behavior, noticing several of these behaviors in your teen should warrant at the very least a discussion, stricter guidelines, and close monitoring.
Stay in the Know
What many parents fail to realize is that unlike when they were growing up, teens now have to worry about the influences of their peers and the media as it pertains to drug use. Over the counter medication use is a trending topic amongst teens these days whether it’s taking a few pain pills or drinking soda mixed with cough syrup. While you can’t very well shield your teen from the outside world and its harsh realities, you can stay informed, make yourself aware of the signs, and ultimately communicate with your teen. Parents can stay informed in several ways which include: staying connected with your teen on social media, watching teen movies and television shows, listening to popular music, and even talking with other parents or your child’s teacher/counselors.
If you discover that your teen is dealing with an Over the Counter medication issue, then the first thing you will need to do is get them help. If their use has turned into an addiction it will be imperative for you to find help through a rehab treatment facility as they often offer the best options for those suffering from addiction. You will need to look for facilities that are within your state that cater to teens to get the best options possible. If you’re not interested in a rehab facility however, getting help from a drug counselor, and/or your school’s guidance counselor may also prove effective.
Teens… if only they were just as simplistic as they were a few years back, things would be much easier to manage. However, as parents who were once teenagers, you also know the need to fit in with your peers. While experimentation and new behaviors are to be expected, there comes a point where they may have crossed the lines. In those instances, it remains important that you get informed, communicate with your teen, and if necessary get help to get them back on the right path.
For more information on over the counter medication abuse and warning signs, check out these sources listed below:
TheAmericanPreppersNetwork.com, When You’re the Doctor: Over the Counter Medicines. January, 29, 2012. http://americanpreppersnetwork.com/2012/01/when-youre-doctor-over-counter.html
Axis Recovery, Finding Help in California, 2015. http://www.axisresidentialtreatment.com/california/
University of Cincinnati, Attention Parents: UC Research Reveals a Secret About Your Medicine Cabinet. October 29, 2012 http://www.uc.edu/news/NR.aspx?id=16780