National Survey Finds Less Than 5 Percent of Teens Abuse OTC Cough Medicine

Annual Monitoring the Future survey results underscore need for parental awareness

Washington, D.C. (December 19, 2012)—Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) President and CEO Scott Melville issued the following statement regarding the 2012 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 dextromethorphan was reported to be 3 percent among eighth graders, 4.7 percent among tenth graders, and 5.6 percent among twelfth graders, bringing the overall average to under 5 percent.

“The percentage of teens who report abusing OTC cough medicine has held steady around 5 percent over the last five years. The results of this year’s Monitoring the Future survey do indicate there may be some decline, and our  StopMedicineAbuse campaign remains committed to increasing parental awareness about this troubling teen behavior,” Melville said.

“Abuse of over-the-counter cough medicines often flies under parents’ radars, which is why the makers of these medicines will forge ahead in our efforts to educate parents about this abuse and encourage them to monitor their medicines and to talk to their teens about dangers of abusing all medicines, including OTC cough medicine. 

“This year we partnered with the Partnership at to launch an unprecedented social media campaign to influence teens directly. Using YouTube videos and a Facebook app, the campaign reaches teens who are likely triers looking for information on how to abuse DXM and conveys the health risks and social disapproval associated with OTC cough medicine abuse. In the first five months, our content has been viewed over 750,000 times and shared over 32,000 times.

“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 all work together to prevent this abuse and keep teens safe.“

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

Contact: Jenni Terry, 202.429.9260 

CHPA is the 131-year-old-trade association representing U.S. manufacturers and distributors of over-the-counter medicines and dietary supplements.