Are You Keeping OTC Meds in Your Medication Lock Box?

Learn the benefits of locking up cough syrup, cold remedies, and other OTC meds.

You store your prescriptions in your medication lock box and talk with your kids about the dangers of prescription drug use. But have you given a second thought to the widely available over-the-counter medications in your home? Too many families don’t take proper safety precautions such as talking to their kids or locking up commonly-found over-the-counter (OTC) medicines. And this oversight could mean disaster for your family.

If you didn’t realize you needed to lock up cough syrup, cold remedies, and other OTC meds, keep reading.

More and more teens are consuming large quantities of medicines like cough syrup to get high, which can result in serious side effects.

One out of three teenagers knows someone who has abused over-the-counter medicine. Cough syrup is one of the most widely-abused over-the-counter medications, and it’s often very easy to get ahold of.

If your teen popped open the bathroom cupboard, would they find an addictive drug?

How One Harmless Ingredient Can Trigger Addiction

Cough syrup is cheap and often perceived as safe because it’s so widely available. Cough syrup and similar drugs contain dextromethorphan (DXM), a cough suppressant present in over 120 widely available medications. This includes Alka Seltzer Plus, Tylenol Cough and Cold, and Vicks DayQuil/NyQuil. DXM is perfectly safe when taken according to label instructions.

When abused, however DXM medicines can be addictive and cause harmful side effects.

You might instinctively equate drinking cough syrup with drinking alcohol- but the high teens get from drinking syrup is unlike an alcohol buzz. DXM is a dissociative drug, with effects similar to ketamine or PCP; a high enough dose can cause hallucinations.

DXM can cause a variety of severe side effects, including:

  • Psychotic episodes
  • Paranoia
  • Seizures
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Stomach pain
  • Dizziness
  • Double or blurred vision
  • Disorientation

DXM addiction can have a very serious impact on your teen’s health. Don’t think it could happen with your kid? Here’s what one teen has to say about his experience abusing meds at home.

Jake was 13 when he found a bottle of cough syrup in the cupboard in his home and began to experiment. Taking this medication recreationally when he was very young started a spiral into addiction.

Jake describes the traumatic experience of addiction, stating, “I was losing trust, losing friends, losing girlfriends because I was stealing their money. And then, eventually, towards the end I was alone. I had nobody. I feel like that’s what I was trying to find- happiness. In drugs.” Jake went through a rehab program, and now at 19 he is finally starting over.

Addiction to DXM medications and other over-the-counter medications is a serious issue; it can have a tragic impact on your teen’s health, and may lead to the use of other, more serious, drugs.

Don’t take this addiction lightly. Lock up your OTC medications and talk to your kids.

A woman looking at her phone.

Help Keep Your Teens Safe With a Medication Lock Box

Jake’s story started when he found cough syrup in an unsecured cupboard in his home. His story demonstrates why it’s vital to stay safe and lock up your OTC medications.

A lock box is an effective way to help control who has access to your medicine. OTC medicines in particular are tempting for recreational use because they are readily available. Locking up the medicine you keep at home is an excellent way to dissuade teens who would experiment with the drugs, and sends the message that even OTC medications are dangerous when not used responsibly.

Why You Need to Talk to Your Kids About DXM

Cough syrup and other OTC medications containing DXM are cheap and easy to obtain without a prescription, so it’s as important to talk to your kids about them just like you talk about other drugs.

Locking your medications up help keeps them safe in your home, but talking to your kids about the dangers of medication abuse can help keep them safe from drugs they may encounter at parties, at school, or even at the grocery store. Studies show that 50% of teens are less likely to take drugs after their parents spoke with them about it.

Over-the-counter medications are dangerous when used recreationally. When abused, OTC medicines containing DXM are a threat to your child’s future. Make sure you know the dangers of teen drug abuse. Addiction will impact their studies, their relationships, and their lives. Cough syrup is a tempting target for teens looking for a buzz because it’s widely available and very cheap. Lock up all of your medication, including OTC medications, and talk to your kids about the dangers of abuse.


What is Pot Poisoning? Is it Real?
What is Pot Poisoning? Is it Real?

With medical cannabis showing up in more homes across America, it brings with it an increased risk to children: the risk of pot poisoning.

Image of a brush sweeping pills into a dust pan.
How to Dispose of Unused Medicines

Learn how eliminating old and expired medications from your home, protects you and your family from potential health risks.

Weed Storage is a Must With Kids at Home
Weed Storage is a Must With Kids at Home

With the increased use of marijuana in the U.S. comes an increased responsibility on behalf of users: keeping marijuana properly stored and out of the hands of minors.

Subscribe to our newsletter and get the latest news
and updates sent to you.