National Survey Finds Teen Abuse of OTC Cough Medicine is Declining

Continuing to raise parental awareness is key to prevention

Washington, D.C. (December 18, 2013) — Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) President and CEO Scott Melville issued the following statement regarding the 2013 National Institute on Drug Abuse’s (NIDA’s) Monitoring the Future survey findings on teen abuse of over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicine containing dextromethorphan (DXM).  Abuse of OTC cough medicine has been on the slight decline over the last several years and this year was reported to be 2.9 percent among eighth graders, 4.3 percent among tenth graders, and 5 percent among twelfth graders, bringing the overall average to 4 percent.

“The results of this year’s Monitoring the Future survey demonstrates that prevention efforts do make a difference.  We are pleased to see this decreasing trend but understand there is a continuing need for parent and teen education to prevent the growth of cough medicine abuse rates.  While the data show fewer teens are abusing, any abuse of this medicine is concerning.

“Through the efforts of our parent-focused education campaign Stop Medicine Abuse and our teen campaign with the Partnership at, we have reached millions of parents and teens about the dangers of DXM abuse.  Our goal is to dissuade potential abusers by reaching teens directly about the risks and by mobilizing parents to take action – to talk to their teens and safeguard the medicines in their homes.  In addition, since launching the Stop Medicine Abuse legislative action center in June, our campaign has mobilized advocates to send over 27,000 emails to the Senate, urging passage of the Prevent Abuse of Cough Treatments (PACT) Act, which would enforce a federal age-18 sales restriction of DXM.

“We will continue to work with the experts at the Partnership at and our additional partners who reach teens and parents, including the National Association of School Nurses, the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America, and D.A.R.E. America, so that we can develop and carry out new tactics for preventing OTC cough medicine abuse.“

For more information on preventing teen cough medicine abuse, including free brochures, visit

The Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) is the 132-year-old trade association representing the leading manufacturers and marketers of over-the-counter (OTC) medicines and dietary supplements. Every dollar spent by consumers on OTC medicines saves the U.S. healthcare system $6-$7, contributing a total of $102 billion in savings each year. CHPA is committed to promoting the increasingly vital role of over-the-counter medicines and dietary supplements in America’s healthcare system through science, education, and advocacy.

About CHPA’s Campaign

  • provides toolkits, brochures, and other materials at no cost to engage parents and community leaders in the fight against teen cough medicine abuse. 
  •’s Five Moms initiative brings together five moms (a school nurse, an accountant, a police officer, an educator, and an author) from across the country to raise awareness of OTC cough medicine abuse among parents and to spur them to action – to educate themselves, to talk with their children, to safeguard their medicines, and to spread the word to other parents.
  • Through the Stop Medicine Abuse legislative action center, parents and other advocates who support a federal age-18 sales restriction of DXM can send a letter of support for the Prevent Abuse of Cough Treatments (PACT) Act.
  • CHPA member companies placed a “PARENTS: Learn About Teen Medicine Abuse –” icon on the packaging of DXM-containing cough medicines.  The icon serves as a mini public service announcement for parents, making them aware of cough medicine abuse at the point-of-sale and point-of-use and directing them to resources.
  • CHPA collaborates with The Partnership at to target teens likely to abuse based on their online search activity and provide them accurate information about the consequences of this behavior. For more information, visit