Watch for The New Drug of Choice with Teens: Over the Counter Drugs

OTC drug

Teenage years are a time for independence and experimentation. In many ways, this is good for teens and their families, but it also comes with risks. 

Alcohol and drug usage has been a concern with teens for a long time. While you must certainly watch for usage of illegal drugs, teens are turning to a new option that’s even harder to spot: over-the-counter drugs. 

Here’s what you need to know about over the counter drugs and how to keep your teens safe 

Over The Counter Drugs 

Teens are still using marijuana and alcohol, but many of the top 10 abused drugs include OTC products. For example, younger adolescents have been found using inhalants including pens, household cleaners, and glue. 

For parents, this is understandably scary. Many of those items are present in the home and easily accessible by teens. Inhaling the fumes of regular products and OTC drugs like cough syrup is still incredibly dangerous. 

Signs to Watch For 

It can be tougher to spot OTC drug use, but it’s important to keep an eye out for it. Here are some signs to watch for:

  • Running out of typical items very quickly. Teens will need to use glue, pens, and cough syrup normally, but running out of such items faster than normal could be a sign of something else. 
  • Missing OTC medications. Many teens will try to hide OTC drug usage. If you notice that OTC medications seem to disappear from cabinets, your teen could be abusing them. 
  • New behavioral problems. Teens can be resistant and more drawn to friends than family, but take note of any severe behavioral changes or problems like dropping grades, missing class, withdrawing, isolation, etc. 

Preventing OTC Drug Abuse in Teens 

Here are some things you can do to prevent OTC drug abuse in teens:

  • Educate kids about the dangers of abusing OTC products early. 
  • Limit access to commonly abused OTC medications and products, keeping them in a locked area. 
  • Check in with your teen. Staying connected is important for keeping teens safe. 
  • Monitor news in your area for information about teens abusing OTC products. If it’s a prevalent issue in your community, then take extra precautions. 
  • Keep your child involved in safe, enjoyable activities like sports and other clubs. 

OTC drug use is a rising issue for teens that can be hard to recognize and prevent due to the accessibility of the products. It’s important to empower your child to make smart decisions from a young age. 


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