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University of Cincinnati Research Finds Teen Boys More Likely Than Girls to Abuse OTC Drugs

According to the University of Cincinnati, there is some new data on teen drug use that may have parents thinking twice about what they keep in the medicine cabinet at home.  The study suggests that as public crackdowns on underage alcohol and tobacco sales have increased throughout the US, teens are turning to OTC drugs as an alternative.  Findings of the UC study found that teen males are at a higher risk of developing long-term abuse of over-the-counter drugs like cough syrup and decongestants.  Rebecca Vidourek, Ph.D., a UC assistant professor of health promotion said, “Findings from this study highlight and underscore OTC drugs as an increasing and significant health issue affecting young people.” Vidourek added that commonly abused OTC medications include cough syrup containing dextromethorphan (DXM), and common decongestants.

The study, which examined OTC drug use among 7th to 12th graders in 133 schools across the Greater Cincinnati area, found that 10% of all students in the sample reported current or past abuse of OTC drugs, a dangerous trend that continues to grow.  Youth who reported being more involved with school clubs, sports, churches and community groups, however, were less likely to drug abuse, while those who did report drug use also reported that they frequented parties where drugs were present or had friends who also abused OTC drugs.  For many parents, this latest research provides good reason to limit access to OTC drugs in homes where teens are present or keep them in a secure location, as abuse of OTC drugs can result in tragic consequences, including accidental overdose, psychical and psychological addictions and seizure.

The data for the University of Cincinnati study was collected by the Coalition for a Drug Free Greater Cincinnati as part of the 2009-2010 Pride Survey on adolescent drug use in America. The survey was distributed to more than 54,000 students.