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Why Parents Turn a Blind Eye to OTC Drug Abuse

One of the growing trends in teen drug use today is the abuse of over the counter (OTC) medications. And yet it seems that many parents turn a blind eye to their child's use of OTC drugs. Why is this? There are several possibilities:

Parents are unaware of the dangers of OTC medications.
Many parents who are keenly aware of-and vigilant about-illegal drug use have no idea that OTC medications, for all their good when used appropriately, can be harmful or even deadly when used inappropriately. This may be because OTC medications can be obtained without a prescription. It may also be because our society as a whole reaches for medication at the first sign of being unwell, and it seems natural to do so.

Parents may be unaware that their child is using OTC drugs.
It can be difficult to discern that your child is using OTC medications. Signs and symptoms of such drug use, like sleep changes or behavioral changes, are common among teens-even those not using drugs. And parents who find empty OTC medication containers may assume that their child is taking it for appropriate reasons.

Parents may believe that OTC drug use is less harmful than alcohol or illegal street drugs.
Some parents who discover that their child is using OTC drugs feel relieved that it's not a "serious" problem, like alcohol or marijuana. They don't understand that OTC drugs can be dangerous, too.

It's important for parents to educate themselves about the dangers of OTC drug use, and to learn how to tell if their child is using these drugs. More important is preventing OTC drug abuse before it begins. Teaching your child from an early age to respect medications, even OTC drugs, and not to use them without adult knowledge and supervision, is a good first step.