CHPA statement regarding 'Monitoring the Future' findings on cough medicine abuse

Makers of cough medicines take the lead on education

Washington, D.C. -- Following is a statement by Linda A. Suydam, D.P.A., president of the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA), regarding today's release of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)'s Monitoring the Future survey, which includes data on the non-medical use of medicines containing dextromethorphan among 8th, 10th, and 12th grade students:

"The Monitoring the Future survey provides us all with valuable insights into the prevalence of the non-medical use of dextromethorphan. We applaud the survey authors for shedding light on this trend surrounding the abuse of medicine. Combined with data gathered by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America for the last two years, this information underscores the critical need for education and awareness about the troubling trend of teenagers taking vast amounts of otherwise safe medicines – both prescription and nonprescription – to get high. Substance abuse experts tell us and we agree that education is the most effective way to keep kids from abusing all types of substances, including medicines. In fact, studies have shown that teens who talk about drugs with their parents are half as likely to use drugs.

"Consumers have relied on cough medicines that contain dextromethorphan for over 50 years, and, as the makers of over-the-counter cough medicines, we take our responsibility toward public health seriously. We believe strongly in the power of education and are committed to raising awareness about medicine abuse and giving parents and other key influencers in teens' lives the tools they need to stop this preventable problem.

"With this in mind, CHPA is taking the lead in educating parents about this preventable abuse problem and empowering them to take action. With the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, we have created a host of English- and Spanish-language educational resources for parents and community leaders, including public service announcements, brochures, and web sites. We also are working with the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America to develop the first toolkit entirely focused on addressing and preventing cough medicine abuse, designed especially for key influencers, coalitions, and other interested parties.

"To help prevent or stop teen medicine abuse, parents should:

  1. Educate themselves about the problem of teens looking to otherwise safe and beneficial products, like medications, as a means to a high and know the warning signs.
  2. Talk to their teens about all types of drug abuse, including cough medicine abuse.
  3. Safeguard their medicine cabinets, and know what products they have and how many.
  4. Monitor their teen's Internet use.
  5. Seek professional help if they think their child has a substance abuse problem.

"The Internet plays a significant role in providing teens with information about how to abuse medicine. The Internet is full of predators who actively encourage dextromethorphan abuse and even provide detailed instructions. These strangers are putting our children at risk of potentially deadly harm, and we must expose them for the dangerous people they are. CHPA is reaching out to online communities, urging them to police their own content and remove this type of dangerous information. At the same time, parents must be vigilant about knowing what their teens may be accessing on the Internet. Teens are using the Internet to purchase the raw, unfinished ingredient used by manufacturers to make cough medicine and to get detailed instructions on how to abuse it.

"As the manufacturers of over-the-counter medicines, we are working diligently to raise awareness of this problem and provide resources for parents, healthcare providers, retailers, teens, and community leaders. CHPA also supports many retailers' efforts to prevent the sale of dextromethorphan-containing medicines to those under the age of 18."

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EMBARGOED FOR RELEASE December 21, 2006 – 10:00 a.m. EST

Note: All of CHPA's initiatives to stop cough medicine abuse by teens are summarized online at http://www.chpa-info.org/ChpaPortal/PressRoom/Kit/MedAbuseEdCampaignPressKit.htm.

CHPA is the 125-year-old trade association representing U.S. manufacturers and distributors of over-the-counter medicines and nutritional supplement products. www.chpa-info.org


Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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