CADCA and Leading OTC Medicine Makers Spark Nationwide Dialogue on Teen Medicine Abuse

Most parents unaware of this dangerous trend; town hall meetings part of educational campaign to curb abuse

Washington, D.C. (July 31, 2007)—In recognition of the first-ever National Medicine Abuse Awareness Month, nine local communities across the country will bring together parents, educators, retailers, law enforcement officials, healthcare professionals, and others to raise awareness about the dangerous trend of teens abusing cough medicine to get high.

The August meetings, sponsored by the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA) and the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (which represents the leading makers of over-the-counter cough medicines), follow on the heels of recent studies spotlighting medicine abuse as an alarming trend among young people.

According to research conducted by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, one in five teenagers has abused prescription medicines, and one in 10 teenagers—or about 2.4 million young people—reports having abused cough medicine to get high. Where OTC cough medicines are concerned, these teens are intentionally taking excessive amounts—sometimes up to 50 times the recommended dose—to get "high" from the active ingredient dextromethorphan. When used as directed, dextromethorphan-containing medicines have a 50-year history of being safe and effective. But when abused in extreme excess, dextromethorphan can produce dangerous side effects, which can be compounded when combined with alcohol, illicit drugs, or certain prescription drugs.

"Consumers have trusted the makers of over-the-counter medications with the health of their families for many years. Now, it’s our turn to alert communities and educate parents about this dangerous teen behavior," said Linda A. Suydam, D.P.A., president of the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA). "The first-ever National Medicine Abuse Awareness Month presents a timely opportunity for us to build community awareness to this problem and alert parents and teens that abusing medicine to get ‘high’ is very dangerous."

Each of the nine meetings features panels composed of representatives from CHPA and CADCA, as well as local anti-drug abuse advocates, substance abuse treatment experts, healthcare professionals, and policymakers. The town hall format offers opportunities for community residents to join the discussion and ask questions of the panelists. Meetings are scheduled for the following dates and locations (please check for event details):

  • July 25, 2007—Cape Coral, FL
  • August 7, 2007—San Diego, CA
  • August 13, 2007—Honolulu, HI
  • August 15, 2007—Edison, NJ
  • August 20, 2007—Hauppauge, NY
  • August 21, 2007—Ft. Smith, AR
  • August 22, 2007—Jefferson City, MO
  • August 29, 2007—Troy, MI
  • August 29, 2007—Salt Lake City, UT

The August town halls feature the educational toolkit, A Dose of Prevention: Stopping Cough Medicine Abuse Before It Starts, which arms parents, educators, retailers, community leaders, and others with critical information to address the problem of cough medicine abuse. Dose of Prevention is the centerpiece of the partnership between CHPA and CADCA designed to educate communities about how to prevent cough medicine abuse among teenagers.

"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. "Coalitions across the country are really getting out in front of this problem and taking a leadership role to stop cough medicine abuse in its tracks."

In addition to its work with CADCA, CHPA is spearheading several major campaigns to raise awareness of dextromethorphan abuse, including the comprehensive web site and programs with the Partnership for a Drug-Free America and D.A.R.E America. The organization has created English- and Spanish-language educational resources for parents and community leaders, an online campaign ( designed specifically to educate parents, and public service announcements and web sites for both parents and teens.

Contact: Elizabeth Funderburk 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 over-the-counter 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

More information about the CADCA/CHPA town hall initiative and the Dose of Prevention Toolkit (which is available online), visit