New survey finds teens lack negative perceptions about many drugs

WASHINGTON While there was no significant increase in the abuse of over-the-counter cough medicines containing dextromethorphan, the 21st annual Partnership/MetLife Foundation Attitude Tracking Survey released Tuesday found an overall waning in teens’ negative perceptions about many drugs along with increases in abuse rates for alcohol, ecstasy and marijuana, the Consumer Healthcare Products Association released in a statement.

The new survey data points to the need for continued efforts to combat substance abuse among teens, the association stated. Teens in the study expressed a significant increase in the perception of these party drugs and alcohol as beneficial and acceptable.

“This survey underscores the need for continued efforts to ensure teens and parents understand the risks and consequences of drug abuse,” stated Linda Suydam, CHPA president. “We are working around the clock to ensure that parents are aware of the dangers of abusing OTC cough medicine to get high. And while we are encouraged that teen abuse rates for OTC cough medicines are not increasing, it is disheartening to see the growing belief among teens in the benefits and acceptability of drug and alcohol use.”

Lifetime abuse rates among teens for OTC cough medicines have remained relatively flat over the past few years: 12% of teens report having abused an OTC cough medicine to get high at least once in their lives. CHPA has been engaged in a long-term, comprehensive initiative to end this type of abuse with partners including the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America, and D.A.R.E. America. These educational efforts can be found at StopMedicineAbuse.org.

“Parents have so much power to help keep their teens drug-free,” Suydam said. “Research shows that teens who learn a lot about drugs from their parents are half as likely to abuse drugs.”  To help parents recognize the potential for cough medicine abuse among teens, makers of OTC cough medicines containing dextromethorphan have placed an educational icon on the medicine packaging, directing parents to the StopMedicineAbuse.org Web site for more information. 

The Web site also provides easy access to downloadable materials for community leaders; free pamphlets for parents in both English and Spanish; resources for additional information on talking to teens about substance abuse issues; the initiatives recently launched Twitter and Facebook fan pages; and the award-winning Five Moms Campaign, and much more. “Our member companies are steadfast in their commitment to prevent teen cough medicine abuse.” Suydam continued:  “But, we know that our work is far from over and this data shows that we need parents’ engagement and involvement more than ever.”

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