How do Five Moms and three mommy bloggers end up on Capitol Hill discussing bills with Congressmen and Senators???
The Power of Moms…
As mothers we are teachers, protectors, advocates, and so much more for our children. We are powerful. We can change the world. In fact, everyday we change the worlds of our kids.
The Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) recognizes the powerful impact mothers have on their children and the world, so they ensured that mothers played a pivotal role in their fight to stop over-the-counter (OTC) drug abuse.
They developed a team called Five Moms to help spread the word to other mothers about the very real dangers of cough medicine abuse. Five Moms is made up of five mothers who have been touched personally by drug abuse and who are passionate about helping parents protect their children from OTC drug abuse.
And the CHPA is reaching out to mom bloggers, to help get the message out to all parents about the dangers in their medicine cabinets and lining the drugstore shelves. Cough medicine can be abused, and kids are spreading the word online about how to do it! So we moms need to do the same — use the internet to get the information to other parents.
On Capitol Hill…
The CHPA isn’t stopping at education, they are also trying to get legislature to help reduce the abuse of dextromethorphan, the ingredient in OTC cough medicines that people use to get high.
The CHPA is working to help bring attention to a bill, sponsored by Senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), prohibiting OTC cough medicine sales to minors, and a bill restricting sales of raw dextromethorphan, introduced by Representative Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Representative Rick Larsen (D-Wash.) which if enacted, would ensure that only legitimate entities registered with FDA or relevant state agencies can purchase raw, unfinished dextromethorphan, the most dangerous form of the ingredient when abused. Currently, there are no national sales or purchase restrictions for dextromethorphan in this form.
And, in addition to the Five Moms and us mommy bloggers, Dr. Drew Pinsky, (aka Dr. Drew from Celebrity Rehab,) also joined us to bring attention to the cause of DXM abuse. (Meeting Dr. Drew Pinsky was an honor — I sat next to him at dinner the night before and he generously answered all of Caroline, Jenn and my questions about abuse, addiction, and even some personal questions we threw his way!)
For our day on Capitol Hill, we broke up into groups, and moved from office to office, shaking hands and discussing the bills. In all, the participating members of Senate and Congress were:
Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS)
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA)
Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA)
Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA)
Rep. Ciro Rodriguez (D-TX)
Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO)
Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI)
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH)
Due to their busy schedules, in some cases we met with their legislative assistants. But we did personally meet with with Representative Fred Upton and Senator Chuck Grassley. The photo below shows our group, including Dr. Drew Pinsky, with Representative Fred Upton.
Both Representative Fred Upton and Senator Chuck Grassley, as parents themselves, were passionate about the issue and encouraged us to continue making our voices heard!
What You Can Do!
At times, we may feel powerless in the face of drug abuse and addiction statistics. But there are important steps we can take to make a difference for our children.
First, we need to listen and talk to our children! The most important thing we can do as parents is to keep open lines of communication with our kids. Children of all ages MUST feel that they have a safe place to come with their questions, problems, concerns and fears.
Second, we must educate ourselves! We need to know the facts, the trends and the signs. Go to www.stopmedicineabuse.org and www.fivemoms.com. Know what is in your medicine cabinet and look for this new icon on medicine labels, warning parents if the product contains DXM.
Third, we have to email or write our Representatives and Senators about our concerns regarding the abuse of DXM in OTC cough medicines. But, if you sometimes feel like an email doesn’t make much of a difference, guess what???
I ASKED Senator Grassley about that very concern! I told him that I personally feel like one letter or email feels futile in the huge world of lawmaking. He responded with a report he had on his desk about how many letters and emails his office receives and how many per month they answer.
Senator Grassley told me that his staff IS reading and listening to our letters and emails and he emphatically encouraged me to tell you to write your Representatives and Senators. HE needs your help to get support for these bills. He can’t do it without support from his fellow Senators! So start typing people!!!
In fact, after our meeting was over, one of his legaslative assistants came over and reiterated to Caroline and me that they are definitely listening! Write letters and emails. Write blog posts. You ARE being heard!
And to conclude, some video for you…
Before we even started our day on Capitol Hill, Dr. Drew and Five Moms member, Misty Fetko, sat down for 39 live interviews during a Satellite Media Tour to highlight the issue of cough medicine abuse. Here is one of those segments here:
Also, as I told you in a post a few weeks ago, two years ago, I was honored to interview Hilda from Five Moms and Mimi from CHPA about how the Five Moms is taking action to help make moms aware of cough medicine abuse.
This time, at the end of our incredible, busy 24 hours in Washington DC, I had a chance to grab a quick interview (with a Flip!) with Misty Fetko, the newest member of Five Moms and a registered nurse who lost her son to an overdose of DXM, (the active ingredient in cough medicine.) Misty’s story is so tragic — but she is using her pain to help reach other parents! Thank you Misty!!!
To see more of my photos from Capitol Hill, check our Flickr stream
Note: The CHPA covered my travel and hotel expenses to travel to Washington but did not pay me to cover this story. I am writing because I believe in educating parents about OTC drug abuse. My opinions and posts are completely my own.