Teen Abuse of Cough/Cold Medicines is at Historic Low After Largest One-Year Decline in 2021

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Washington, D.C. — The annual Monitoring the Future survey from the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the University of Michigan, measures teenage drug and alcohol use nationwide among students in 8th, 10th, and 12th grades. Results from the 2021 research show that, among all grades surveyed, overall rates of drug and alcohol abuse saw the largest one-year decline since the survey began in 1975.  Among the findings, the percentage of teens abusing over-the-counter (OTC) cough/cold medicine remains low – an average 2.7 percent – a decrease from 2020. And for 12th graders specifically, abuse of cough/cold medicines in 2021 was the lowest yet at 1.7 percent, down by nearly half from the previous year.  

For more than a decade, the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) has worked to help reduce teen abuse of the cough medicine dextromethorphan (DXM) by educating parents about abuse and prevention, educating at-risk teens, and limiting their access to DXM through age-18 sales restrictions in states. In addition, manufacturers have voluntarily added package labeling on cough medicines containing DXM ("PARENTS: Learn About Teen Medicine Abuse") directing consumers to www.StopMedicineAbuse.org with information and resources to inform and empower parents.

The Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA), founded in 1881, is the national trade association representing the leading manufacturers and marketers of consumer healthcare products, including over-the-counter (OTC) medicines, dietary supplements, and consumer medical devices. CHPA is committed to empowering self-care by ensuring that Americans have access to products they can count on to be reliable, affordable, and convenient, while also delivering new and better ways to get and stay healthy. Visit www.chpa.org.