Survey Shows Increase in Abuse of Cough and Cold Medicines Among 10th Graders, But Rates Among Youth Remain Relatively Low

10th Graders Report a Significant Increase in Use but Still Lower than the Peak in 2009
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Washington, D.C. – The annual Monitoring the Future survey, conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan and funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), shows that the percentage of adolescents reporting substance use in 2022 “held steady” following significant overall declines in 2021. This year’s findings are particularly meaningful following historic declines last year, especially since most teens returned to school, to extracurricular activities, and to other social engagements in 2022 after nearly two years of social distancing. The nationally representative cross-sectional survey, begun in 1975, is fielded each year among students in 8th, 10th, and 12th grades and is the most current assessment of self-reported teen substance use in the U.S for numerous substances ranging from medicines to nicotine, alcohol, and illicit drugs.

Regarding over-the-counter (OTC) cough and cold medicine use specifically, this year’s report notes that use rates among 8th grade students fell for the second year in a row to the pre-pandemic level of 3.2 percent, and use rates among 12th grade students grew slightly, but not significantly, to 2.4 percent – still lower than pre-pandemic levels. However, 2022 saw a statistically significant increase in use rates among 10th grade students, growing from 2.7 percent in 2021 to 3.9 percent in 2022, but still lower than the peak rate of 6.0 percent in 2009.

For more than a decade, the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) has worked to help reduce teen abuse of the cough medicine containing dextromethorphan (DXM) by educating parents about abuse and prevention, educating at-risk teens, and limiting access to DXM through age-18 sales restrictions now effective in 21 states.

CHPA also works alongside manufacturers, retailers, lawmakers, and educational partners including Partnership to End Addiction and the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA). OTC manufacturers have voluntarily added package labeling on cough medicines containing DXM ("PARENTS: Learn About Teen Medicine Abuse") directing consumers to with information and resources to inform and empower parents. In part, as a result of these and other efforts, overall cough medicine use among teens has been cut nearly in half over the past decade.


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