WASHINGTON The Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America and the Consumer Healthcare Products Association on Wednesday joined forces to kick off their annual National Medicine Abuse Awareness Month to raise awareness of the dangers of youth prescription and over-the-counter medicine abuse.
This initiative, annually held in October, features a coordinated and concentrated effort to educate parents and youth of the potential dangers associated with prescription and OTC medicine abuse.
According to the 2009 Monitoring the Future Survey, considered the preeminent national study on teen substance abuse, 5% of teens have abused OTC cough medicines containing the active ingredient dextromethorphan to get high over the past year. When used correctly, DXM-containing medicines have a 50-year history of being safe and effective. But when abused in extreme excess, dextromethorphan can produce dangerous side effects, especially when combined with alcohol, illicit drugs or certain prescription drugs.
“While prescription and over-the-counter medicines are safe and necessary for many people, too many teens are abusing these drugs to get high,” stated Gen. Arthur Dean, CADCA chairman and CEO. “We hope that our efforts during National Medicine Abuse Awareness Month will raise awareness of the numbers of young people who currently abuse medicines, and spur a dialogue about prevention in communities across the country.”
“We know from 35 years of drug abuse prevention research that teen cough medicine abuse can be best addressed through education, and we are using the month of October to provide additional resources to communities interested in raising awareness among parents and teens about the dangers of cough medicine abuse,” added CHPA president Linda Suydam. “In addition, the leading makers of OTC cough medicines and our partners in prevention also support legislative initiatives to give parents further tools to address this type of abuse. These initiatives include a federal ban on sales of OTC cough medicines to teens under the age of 18 and a federal restriction against the sale of the raw, unfinished form of dextromethorphan to anyone other than an entity registered by the Food and Drug Administration.”
National Medicine Abuse Awareness Month coincides with the beginning of the school year and offers a platform for communities nationwide to become involved, as well as free and downloadable educational materials. As a part of this effort, community antidrug coalitions in nearly 40 locations throughout the country will be hosting town hall meetings in their communities throughout the month of October. These coalitions have access to the online toolkit — A Dose of Prevention: Stopping Cough Medicine Abuse Before It Starts — created by the CHPA and the CADCA.
In addition, the CADCA has developed a toolkit to help substance abuse prevention leaders reduce prescription drug abuse, entitled "Rx Abuse Prevention Toolkit: From Awareness to Action." To view the materials or to learn more about all of CADCA and CHPA’s activities to help curb prescription and OTC cough medicine abuse, visit StopMedicineAbuse.org.