Report: DXM abuse down among high school seniors

ROCKVILLE, Md. — Abuse of the cough ingredient dextromethorphan among high school seniors is down, according to this year’s Monitoring the Future survey, which measures drug use and attitudes among the nation’s eighth-, 10th- and 12th-graders. Approximately 5% of seniors reported abuse of dextromethorphan, down from 6.9% in 2006, the first year it was measured by the survey.

“The results of this year’s Monitoring the Future survey demonstrates that prevention efforts do make a difference," stated Scott Melville, president and CEO of the Consumer Healthcare Products Association. "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," he said. “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, CHPA's campaign has mobilized advocates to send more than 27,000 emails to the Senate, urging passage of the Prevent Abuse of Cough Treatments Act, which would enforce a federal age-18 sales restriction of DXM.

There is mixed news regarding abuse of prescription medications, however. The survey found continued abuse of Adderall, commonly used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, with 7.4% of seniors reporting taking it for non-medical reasons in the past year. However, only 2.3% of seniors report abuse of Ritalin, another ADHD medication. 

Abuse of the pain reliever Vicodin has shown a marked decrease in the last 10 years, now measured at 5.3% for high school seniors, compared with 10.5% in 2003. 

Cigarette smoking continues to decline as well. For the first time, the percentage of students in all three grades combined who say they smoked in the past month is below 10% (9.6%) compared with 16.7% 10 years ago and 24.7% in 1993. 

Daily smoking of cigarettes is now at 8.5% for 12th-graders, 4.4% for 10th-graders and 1.8% for eighth-graders. However, 21.4% of seniors report smoking tobacco with a hookah in the past year, more than 3% above the rate teens reported in 2012 (18.3%).



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