National Survey: Teen Abuse of OTC Cough Medicine Remains at Lowest Level

WASHINGTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The results of the 2015 National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and
University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future survey released today
found that the percent of teens abuse of over-the-counter (OTC) cough
medicine containing dextromethorphan (DXM) to get high remains at 3
percent. When first reported by Monitoring the Future in 2006, teen OTC
cough medicine abuse was at just under 6 percent.

The Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) works to reduce
abuse following three strategies: increase teen perception of risk and
social disapproval, increase parent engagement, and limit teen access to

“The results of this year’s Monitoring
the Future
 survey demonstrate that prevention efforts are essential
to keeping the abuse rate at its all-time low,” CHPA President and CEO
Scott Melville said. “The industry remains committed to helping families
and communities fight this behavior.”

CHPA and Partnership
for Drug-Free Kids
work together to reach teens by highlighting the
social disapproval and side effects of cough medicine abuse behaviors.

“It’s gratifying to see DXM abuse remaining at very low levels, and to
feel that the Partnership’s targeted communications efforts, in
collaboration with the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, have
helped teens see this behavior as risky – and pretty embarrassing, too,”
said Sean Clarkin, executive vice president, research and external
relations, Partnership for Drug-Free Kids.

CHPA works to spread the word about the dangers of teen cough medicine
abuse to parents through its Stop
Medicine Abuse

“Parents have the power to help their teens make good decisions. Through
online engagement with parents, media coverage, and collaboration with
the Community
Anti-Drug Coalitions of America
, we reached parents and community
leaders more than 279 million times this year,” Melville said.

To restrict teen access to DXM, CHPA supported the passage of state laws
prohibiting the sale of medicines containing DXM to those under 18.
Currently, Arizona, California, Kentucky, Louisiana, New Jersey, New
York, Tennessee, Virginia, and Washington have all passed this
legislation, three of which passed this year thanks to CHPA’s active
engagement. CHPA strongly advocates for passage of national bipartisan
legislation, the DXM Abuse Prevention (DAP) Act of 2015 (H.R. 3250).
CHPA believes the bill is one way to limit teen access to the medicines
and is an important part of prevention along with educating teens about
the risks and mobilizing parents to talk to their teens and safeguard
the medicines in their home.

For more information and resources on preventing teen OTC cough medicine
abuse, visit

The Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) is the
134-year-old trade association representing the leading manufacturers
and marketers of over-the-counter (OTC) medicines and dietary
supplements. Every dollar spent by consumers on OTC medicines saves the
U.S. healthcare system $6-$7, contributing a total of $102 billion in
savings each year. CHPA is committed to promoting the increasingly vital
role of over-the-counter medicines and dietary supplements in America’s
healthcare system through science, education, and advocacy.

About CHPA’s Stop
Medicine Abuse

  • provides toolkits, brochures, and other
    materials at no cost to engage parents and community leaders in the
    fight against teen cough medicine abuse.
  •’s Five
     initiative brings together five moms (a school nurse, a
    social marketer, an educator, a community advocate and an author) from
    across the country to raise awareness of OTC cough medicine abuse
    among parents and to spur them to action – to educate themselves, to
    talk with their children, to safeguard their medicines, and to spread
    the word to other parents.
  • Through the Stop Medicine Abuse legislative
    action center
    , parents and other advocates who support a federal
    age-18 sales restriction of DXM can send a letter of support for the
    DXM Abuse Prevention (DAP) Act of 2015 (H.R. 3250).
  • CHPA member companies placed a “PARENTS: Learn About Teen Medicine
    Abuse –
    icon on the packaging of DXM-containing cough medicines. The icon
    serves as a mini public service announcement for parents, making them
    aware of cough medicine abuse at the point-of-sale and point-of-use
    and directing them to resources.
  • CHPA collaborates with Partnership
    for Drug-Free Kids
    to target teens likely to abuse DXM based on
    their online search activity and provide them accurate information
    about the consequences of this behavior. For more information, visit


Consumer Healthcare Products Association
, 202-429-9260