Drive is on to head off teens' DXM abuse

September 3, 2007

The Consumer Healthcare Products Association is providing educational programs to stop DXM abuse in teens. It also discusses what manufacturers are voluntarily doing to stop teens from purchasing large quantities of cough and cold medicines which contain the ingredients dextromethorphan.

The good news: The Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) is collaborating with the Partnership and other organizations to launch educational initiatives to combat this disturbing trend.

In June, the Senate passed S. Res. 225, a resolution designating August 2007 as "National Medicine Abuse Awareness Month." Introduced by Sen. Joseph Biden Jr., (D, Del.), the resolution encourages parents to educate themselves and to talk to their teens about the dangers associated with medicine abuse.

Still, some retailers are taking steps to prevent teens from abusing medicines that contain DXM. According to the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, 16 members have already instituted an age restriction on retail sales of over-the-counter medicines containing DXM. While CHPA applauded retailers for these measures, Funderburk pointed out that these restrictions don't address the problem of kids who obtain the OTCs from their medicine cabinet. "We still have the challenge to reach as many parents as we can in the hope that they can learn about this problem and what they can do to address it," she said. When parents sit down and speak to their kids about drug abuse, those kids are half as likely to abuse drugs as kids whose parents don't talk to them. "We're recommending that parents not only speak to their kids but also safeguard their medicine cabinets and monitor the Internet sites their children are visiting."

CHPA and the Partnership recently launched an on-line campaign dubbed "Five Moms: Stopping Cough Medicine Abuse" at http://www.FiveMoms.com/. The campaign, which features five women from different walks of life, creates a virtual meeting place where parents can share stories.

CHPA and the Partnership are also offering information about DXM abuse on a teen-oriented Web site, http://www.dxmstories.com/. CHPA and the Partnership have also launched TV, radio, and print public service announcements.

"A Dose of Prevention" is another CHPA community education outreach program, this one in partnership with the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA). "We worked with them to provide an educational tool kit for the community. We have taken it on the road to 143 town hall meetings," said Funderburk. The toolkit is available at http://www.doseofprevention.org/.

CHPA has also teamed up with D.A.R.E. America. A new curriculum on the dangers of medicine abuse has been developed for fifth-, seventh-, and ninth-graders. The nationwide program is scheduled to launch this fall. CHPA is also offering "Preventing Teen Cough Medicine Abuse: A Parent's Guide," which is available in English and Spanish. Free copies can be ordered at http://www.chpa-info.org/pubs/.