SAMHSA study: OTC cough and cold medications abused by 12- to 25-year-olds

January 11, 2008

SAMHSA: 3.1 million young adults have abused OTC cough medicine in their lifetime.

A new study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) shows that about 3.1 million people in the U.S. aged 12 to 25 have used non-prescription cough and cold medicines to get high at least once in their lifetimes. Newly analyzed data from the National Survey of Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) show the number is comparable to those who say they have used LSD (3.1 million), and is significantly greater than the number who reported having tried methamphetamines (2.4 million). Commenting on the findings, the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) said, "SAMSHA's annual study provides some valuable insight for parents and healthcare professionals to better understand teen behaviors, and we commend the survey authors for examining the troubling trend of young people abusing medicines to get high. The leading makers of OTC cough medicines are working tirelessly to raise awareness about cough medicine abuse and welcome these data to help inform adults about this dangerous behavior.

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