Five Moms Take a Stand Against Cough Medicine Abuse

Answering a call from the nation's cough medicine makers, moms launch grassroots campaign to help parents fight teen medicine abuse

Washington, D.C. (May 9, 2007)—Five moms, from different walks of life and from all across the country, today launched a grassroots campaign to stop the dangerous trend of teens abusing cough medicines to get high.

The campaign, developed by the nation’s cough-medicine makers, is designed to alert parents to a growing substance-abuse problem that most don’t even know exists.

"Substance-abuse experts agree that education is the key to preventing—and stopping—such abuse," said Linda A. Suydam, president of the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA), the association representing over-the-counter medicine manufacturers responsible for creating the campaign. "Parents have trusted us with the health of their families for more than 50 years. Now it’s our turn to alert them to a problem that every family should know about."

At the heart of the Five Moms Campaign are five exceptional women, each dedicated to spreading the word about the dangers of cough medicine abuse across the country and in her own community. CHPA conducted a national search to find the Five Moms. They are:

  • Julie Bermant, a pediatric nurse practitioner from Massachusetts
  • Blaise Brooks, an accountant from California
  • Christy Crandell, the California mother of a former cough-medicine abuser
  • Becky Dyer, a D.A.R.E. officer and deputy sheriff from Kansas
  • Hilda Morales, an educator from Texas

Campaign serves as a wake-up call to parents

Recent studies have spotlighted cough medicine abuse as an alarming trend among young people, who intentionally take large amounts of cough medicine to get a "high" from the active ingredient dextromethorphan. Data collected by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America show that one in 10, or 2.4 million young people, reports having abused dextromethorphan-containing medicines to get high.

The Five Moms Campaign will use the very same tactics medicine abusers are using: spreading and promoting information on the Internet. The Five Moms’ goal is to get the word out to as many parents as possible that cough medicine abuse is happening in their homes, and that the Internet is a driving force.

The centerpiece of the campaign is www.FiveMoms.com, a web site where parents can find information about cough medicine abuse, read blog entries from the Five Moms and occasional "special guest moms," and link to sites that have additional resources for fighting cough medicine abuse. FiveMoms.com is a place parents can go to learn how to spot the warning signs, as well as what to do if they suspect their child is abusing.

In conjunction with today’s launch, the Five Moms will release a short "viral video" via e-mail to their friends and family, with the goal of the video reaching a million moms by the end of the year.

Another feature of the campaign is a special community on Gather.com, a social networking site for parents, where they can go to share their perspectives on cough medicine abuse and benefit from the experiences of others.

"We joined together to protect our kids and to make parents stronger," said Five Mom Hilda Morales. "If we do this right, every parent in America will know about this problem."

Trend spreading through online communities

The Internet is heavily populated with web sites and online communities, including MySpace, YouTube, LiveJournal, and Facebook, that feature detailed instructions on how to abuse cough medicine, as well as videos of kids experiencing the "high". Some web sites even sell the raw, unfinished form of the ingredient dextromethorphan, which can be deadly, to anyone with a credit card and a shipping address.

"The people who promote cough medicine abuse online are Internet predators, plain and simple," said Five Mom and Deputy Sheriff Becky Dyer. "The teenagers who glorify this abuse on the Internet have no idea what danger they’re putting themselves and others in. And the people selling raw dextromethorphan to our kids just don’t care."

The Five Moms Campaign is part of a long-term multi-media effort by CHPA to educate parents and teens about cough medicine abuse. CHPA has partnered with the Partnership for a Drug-Free America on public service announcements and bilingual educational materials, and the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America on a toolkit for community leaders. CHPA also is working with D.A.R.E. America to incorporate information about cough medicine abuse into its school curricula.

"Our member companies have worked tirelessly to educate parents about the potential for abuse," said CHPA President Suydam. "The Five Moms campaign takes this effort to an entirely new level."

To learn more about the Five Moms Campaign, visit www.FiveMoms.com.

Contacts: Elizabeth Funderburk, 202.429.9260
Mechal Weiss, 212.642.7731


CHPA is the 126-year-old trade association representing U.S. manufacturers and distributors of over-the-counter medicines and nutritional supplements.