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Partnership for a Drug-Free America's 21st Annual Teen Survey Shows No Significant Increase in Over-the-Counter Medicine Abuse Rates

Despite flat OTC abuse rates, other types of abuse are increasing

WASHINGTON, March 2 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- New survey data released today by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America and MetLife Foundation point to the need for continued efforts to combat substance abuse among teens. While there was no significant increase in the abuse of over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicines containing dextromethorphan, the 21st annual Partnership/MetLife Foundation Attitude Tracking Survey (PATS) found an overall waning in teens' negative perceptions about many drugs along with increases in abuse rates for alcohol, ecstasy, and marijuana. Teens in this study expressed a significant increase in the perception of these party drugs and alcohol as beneficial and acceptable.  

"This survey underscores the need for continued efforts to ensure teens and parents understand the risks and consequences of drug abuse," remarked Linda A. Suydam, D.P.A., president of the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA), the trade association representing the leading makers of OTC cough medicines. "We are working around the clock to ensure that parents are aware of the dangers of abusing OTC cough medicine to get high.  And while we are encouraged that teen abuse rates for OTC cough medicines are not increasing, it is disheartening to see the growing belief among teens in the benefits and acceptability of drug and alcohol use."

Lifetime abuse rates among teens for OTC cough medicines have remained relatively flat over the past few years: 12 percent of teens report having abused an OTC cough medicine to get high at least once in their lives. CHPA has been engaged in a long-term, comprehensive initiative to end this type of abuse with partners including the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America, and D.A.R.E. America. These educational efforts can be found at has information for parents including the warning signs of OTC medicine abuse, the risks of this abuse, and proven tactics to prevent this abuse. The makers of OTC cough medicines recommend that parents:

  • Educate themselves about cough medicine abuse.
  • Safeguard their medicine cabinets and know exactly which medicines they have and how much medicine is in each bottle or package.
  • Talk with their teens and preteens about the risks of medicine abuse.

"Parents have so much power to help keep their teens drug-free," said Suydam. "Research shows that teens who learn a lot about drugs from their parents are up to half as likely to abuse drugs."  To help parents recognize the potential for cough medicine abuse among teens, the leading makers of OTC cough medicines containing dextromethorphan have placed an educational icon on the medicine packaging. The icon directs parents to the web site for more information.

The web site also 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 initiatives recently launched Twitter and Facebook fan pages; and the award-winning Five Moms Campaign, and much more. "Our member companies are steadfast in their commitment to prevent teen cough medicine abuse." Suydam continued:  "But, we know that our work is far from over and this data shows that we need parents' engagement and involvement more than ever."

About PATS Teens 2009

The 21st annual national study of 3,287 teens in grades 9-12 and 804 parents is nationally projectable with a +/- 2.3 percent margin of error for the teen sample and +/- 3.5 percent for the parent sample. Conducted for the Partnership and MetLife Foundation by the Roper Public Affairs Division of GfK Custom Research, the 2009 PATS teen study was administered in private, public, and parochial schools, while the parents study was conducted through in-home interviews by deKadt Marketing and Research, Inc. For more information or to view the full PATS Report, please visit

CHPA is the 129-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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SOURCE Consumer Healthcare Products Association
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