Makers of Cough Remedies Join with Anti-Drug Coalitions to Fight Medicine Abuse

Toolkit Is an Important Step to Provide Critical Information Needed for Prevention

Washington, D.C. (February 14, 2007)—The Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) and Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA) today launched a new campaign designed to educate communities about how to prevent cough medicine abuse among teenagers. The campaign features an educational toolkit called A Dose of Prevention: Stopping Cough Medicine Abuse Before It Starts. The toolkit is designed to arm parents, educators, retailers, healthcare providers, law enforcement officials, and other community leaders with critical information to address the problem of cough medicine abuse.

"The most effective tool we have to fight substance abuse, including cough medicine abuse, is education at the community level," said General Arthur Dean, chairman & CEO of CADCA. "This problem requires that we all work together—educators, parents, and others who positively influence our teens—to stop cough medicine abuse in its tracks."

Recent studies have highlighted cough medicine abuse as an alarming trend among young people, who ingest large amounts of over-the-counter (OTC) medicines that contain the cough suppressant dextromethorphan to get high. When used correctly, dextromethorphan-containing medicines have a 50-year history of being safe and effective. But when taken in extreme excess—sometimes 25-50 times the recommended dose—dextromethorphan can produce a hallucinogenic high, with very dangerous side effects.

The release of A Dose of Prevention coincides with results of a recent survey of CADCA member coalitions across the country. In that survey, 73 percent of anti-drug coalition members said they do not think parents in their communities are aware that OTC medicine abuse is a problem among youth; 75 percent also said they don’t believe parents are talking with their kids about the problem. Meanwhile, data collected by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America show that one in 10 youths, or 2.4 million young people, report having abused dextromethorphan-containing medicines to get high, suggesting that this type of abuse is a that behavior must be addressed immediately.

The Dose of Prevention toolkit provides key stakeholders and teen influencers with critical information regarding the harmful effects of dextromethorphan abuse, how kids are getting the drugs, the possible warning signs of abuse, and tips for local coalitions to get their message out through the media.

CHPA, whose members are the makers of OTC medicines, is working on a number of initiatives—including the new partnership with CADCA—to educate parents about the problem and help empower them to prevent it.

"Medications are developed to improve the public health, so we are committed to stopping the dangerous behavior of teens abusing these medicines," said CHPA President Linda A. Suydam, D.P.A. "The key to doing this, according to the substance abuse experts, is through education."

CHPA also is reaching out to communities with public service announcements and an online version of the toolkit, which can be found at

"Parents must be vigilant about addressing this problem," Dr. Suydam said. "They should educate themselves about the issue; talk to their teens about all types of drug abuse, including cough medicine abuse; safeguard their medicine cabinets; monitor their teen’s Internet use; and seek professional help if they think their child has a substance abuse problem."

"I can tell you firsthand that teens don’t realize how dangerous the abuse of cough medications can be," said Toren Volkmann, a former abuser of dextromethorphan products and author of From Binge to Blackout. "This ignorance, coupled with the fact that teens are experts at hiding abuse from their parents, is what makes this problem so critical. Parents really need to start the conversation early about not drinking or abusing any type of drugs with their kids."

The Dose of Prevention toolkit is designed to engage not only parents, but all key stakeholders and teen influencers, in this important conversation. Toolkit users will receive an overview on OTC cough medicine abuse, targeted outreach fact sheets, information regarding the role of the internet, and sample media outreach materials to help them continue to spread this important message.

To learn more about A Dose of Prevention: Stopping Cough Medicine Abuse Before It Starts, visit

Contact: Elizabeth Assey, 202.429.9260 (w) 202.256.5677 (m)

About the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA)
CHPA, founded in 1881, is a member-based association representing the leading manufacturers and distributors of nonprescription, over-the-counter (OTC) medicines and nutritional supplements. Many CHPA member products provide millions of Americans with safe, effective, and convenient therapies for the treatment and prevention of many common ailments and diseases. To learn more about CHPA, visit

About the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA)
CADCA is the national membership organization representing over 5,000 coalitions working to make America’s communities safe, healthy and drug-free. CADCA’s mission is to build and strengthen the capacity of community coalitions by providing technical assistance and training, public policy advocacy, media strategies and marketing programs, conferences, and special events. For more information about CADCA, visit