Home » News » Teens, Especially Males, Turn to OTC Drugs

Teens, Especially Males, Turn to OTC Drugs

Teens, Especially Males, Turn to OTC DrugsA new study warns that parents may want to lock up their medicine cabinets as youth turn to drugs that are easily accessible.

Researchers discovered more stringent enforcement of alcohol and tobacco sales and a heighten effort to combat access to illicit drugs has led teens to turn to over-the-counter drugs.

Moreover, the new University of Cincinnati study suggests adolescent males are at a higher risk of reporting longtime use of over-the-counter drugs, compared with their female peers.

Rebecca Vidourek, Ph.D., and Keith King, Ph.D., examined over-the-counter (OTC) drug use among 7th – 12th grade students in 133 schools across Greater Cincinnati.

The data was collected by the Coalition for a Drug Free Greater Cincinnati as part of the 2009-2010 Pride Survey on adolescent drug use in America. The survey was distributed to more than 54,000 students.

Early analysis found that 10 percent of the students reported abusing over-the-counter drugs — common things like cough syrup and decongestants.

“Findings from this study highlight and underscore OTC drugs as an increasing and significant health issue affecting young people,” said Vidourek, who adds that commonly abused OTC medications include cough syrup containing dextromethorphan (DXM), and decongestants.

The researchers say that high rates of OTC use were also found among male and female junior high school students.

OTC abuse can result in unintentional poisoning, seizures and physical and psychological addictions, said Vidourek.

Researchers discovered participation in sports, community events and church activities appeared to buffer OTC medication abuse.

Teens more likely to report taking OTC drugs were also more likely to report that they had attended parties with the drugs or had friends who abused OTC drugs.

The Pride Survey is a national survey that provides an independent assessment of adolescent drug use, violence and other behaviors.

Survey findings were presented at the 140th annual meeting of the American Public Health Association in San Francisco.

Source: University of Cincinnati

Teenager holding out pills photo by shutterstock.

Teens, Especially Males, Turn to OTC Drugs

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). Teens, Especially Males, Turn to OTC Drugs. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 23, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.