Hanna and I are both in the throes of winter colds much like Marie Anelle described yesterday (though I got through mine in a week, knock on wood). And last night, when Hanna went for the cough medicine in order to sleep, we discovered our bottle of syrup had experience, like, two years ago. So I volunteered — as the less-ill of the pair — to run down to the CVS near us and buy a new bottle. I threw on my coat and boots over the pajamas, pocketed my debit card and keys, and left the apartment. In the store I found what I was looking for and made my way to the self check-out machine. So far so good.
Well, I realize I’m out of the loop on this kinda shit, because I just don’t by cough syrup all that often … but apparently you need to be over eighteen to buy cough syrup now? Because the woman at the checkout asked for my license like I was buying beer or something. Luckily I had it, because I always take my ID when I’m going to pay with a card (not that anyone ever checks, but hey). So it’s not like my evening was particularly inconvenienced by the experience?
But the thing is: what if you weren’t eighteen and you needed cough syrup? It’s not like every kid below the age of eighteen lives with their parents. And it’s not like parents never go on overnight trips or vacations, leaving their teenagers alone for a few days. Somewhere out there, I thought walking home, there are teenagers who are going without sleep because people are freaked out about over-the-counter drug abuse.
I brought this up with Hanna when I got home. “Did you know you had to be over the age of eighteen to buy cough syrup?” I bitched, “I can’t believe this. What if you were sixteen and you needed it?”
“Was it behind the counter?” She asked
“Well, then,” she pointed out, practically, “you shoplift.”
“So basically we’re encouraging kids to shoplift instead of buying the drugs they need to get a good night’s sleep and go to school the next day?”
The packaging on the cough syrup bottle I bought sent me to this website, StopMedicineAbuse.org, aimed at parents and eager to tell me about the dangers of kids getting high from cough medicine. Oh-kay? It’s just … this isn’t like cigarettes or wine, where there is no actual legitimate use of the substance as a healing agent. Young people, under the age of eighteen, get sick. They get colds. They will likely need cough medicine. They won’t always have an adult around to buy it for them.
This seems like a fairly clear-cut case of ageism in action to me. Is it just my snot-addled brain speaking here? I don’t understand how we can restrict teenagers from purchasing a bottle of over-the-counter medication they might need for legitimate reasons. I can see saying, “gee, you can’t buy ten bottles at once!” But, none? That’s dangerous territory, in my opinion, skating close to (or over the edge of?) the boundary where public health infringes on the rights of individuals to purchase medication that will help them take care of themselves … regardless of their age.