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New Partnership for a Drug-Free America 20th Annual Study Shows Progress in Teens Recognizing Dangers of OTC Cough Medicine Abuse

Makers of OTC cough medicines committed to continuing multi-pronged effort to raise awareness

WASHINGTON, Feb. 26 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- New survey data released today by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America offers some promising news regarding teens and the abuse of over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicines. According to the 20th annual Partnership Attitude Tracking Survey (PATS), a national study of teen behavior and attitudes about drugs and alcohol, an increased number of teens view the intentional abuse of OTC cough medicines as risky. PATS indicates 48 percent of teens now understand this abuse is dangerous, up significantly from 45 percent in 2007.

"We welcome this new data as a signal that the efforts of the leading makers of over-the-counter cough medicines in past years is making a difference," remarked Linda A. Suydam, president, Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA). Lifetime abuse rates among teens for OTC cough medicines has not increased from previous PATS data and has remained relatively flat over the past few years: 10 percent, or roughly 2.4 million teens, report ever having abused an OTC cough medicine to get high. Federal research released in December 2008 shows a slight overall decrease in annual OTC abuse rates among teens.

"The relationship between increased perception of risk and lower abuse rates is well known in the prevention community," said Steve Pasierb, president and CEO, the Partnership for a Drug-Free America. "More teens seeing the abuse of cough medicine as dangerous is a very positive indication. And, while the study shows that 37 percent of teens reported learning a lot about the risks of drug abuse from their parents -- a significant 16 percent increase from the previous year -- too many parents are still missing crucial opportunities to talk about the intentional abuse of medicines."

One troubling result in the study of over 6,500 teens is that a low percentage of teens -- just 18 percent -- report hearing about cough medicine abuse from their parents. "Parents have a very important role in helping shape their children's attitudes about drug abuse," said Suydam. "We are working with our partners to help raise awareness and encourage this parent-teen communication." Research shows that teens who learn a lot about drugs from their parents are up to half as likely to abuse drugs.

CHPA's efforts to fight teen cough medicine abuse can be found at The web site provides easy access to downloadable materials for community leaders, free pamphlets for parents in both English and Spanish, resources for additional information on talking to teens about substance abuse issues, the initiative's recently launched Facebook fan page and award-winning Five Moms Campaign, and much more. "Our member companies are steadfast in their commitment to prevent teen cough medicine abuse. But, we know that our work is far from over." Suydam continued: "With the help of such partners as the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America, and D.A.R.E. America, we will continue our efforts to make sure all parents are aware of this substance abuse behavior and talk with their children about it."

About PATS Teens 2008

The 20th annual national study of 6,518 teens in grades 7-12 is nationally projectable with a +/- 1.3 percent margin of error. PATS Teens 2008 was conducted in private, public, and parochial schools for the Partnership by the Roper Public Affairs Division of GfK Custom Research. For more information and the full PATS Teens Report visit

CHPA is the 128-year-old-trade association representing U.S. manufacturers and distributors of over-the-counter medicines and nutritional supplements. |

SOURCE Consumer Healthcare Products Association
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