Attention, parents: UC research reveals a secret about your medicine cabinet

October 29, 2012

As crackdowns get tougher on alcohol, tobacco sales, and illicit drugs, there's a growing trend among youth to turn to another source to get high: their parent's medicine cabinet. A new University of Cincinnati study suggests adolescent males are at a higher risk of reporting longtime use of over-the-counter drugs, compared with their female peers. Early results of the study by Rebecca Vidourek, a UC assistant professor of health promotion, and Keith King, a University of Cincinnati professor of health promotion, will be presented on October 29, at the 140th Annual Meeting of the American Public Health Association in San Francisco.

The study examined over-the-counter (OTC) drug use among 7th-12th grade students in 133 schools across Greater Cincinnati. The data 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.

Early analysis found that 10 percent of the students reported abusing over-the-counter drugs. "Findings from this study highlight and underscore OTC drugs as an increasing and significant health issue affecting young people," says Vidourek, who adds that commonly abused OTC medications include cough syrup containing Dextromethorphan (DXM), and decongestants. The researchers say that high rates of OTC use were also found among male and female junior high school students.

Vidourek says that OTC abuse can result in unintentional poisoning, seizures and physical and psychological addictions.

The researchers say that youth who reported involvement in positive activities, such as school clubs, sports, community and church organizations, were less likely to report abusing OTC medications. Teens more likely to report taking OTC drugs were also more likely to report that they had attended parties with the drugs or had friends who abused OTC drugs.
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The Pride Survey is a national survey that provides an independent assessment of adolescent drug use, violence and other behaviors. The Coalition for a Drug-Free Greater Cincinnati promotes drug-free environments for youth by enhancing partnerships to educate, advocate and support locally-based, community mobilization.

The American Public Health Association is the oldest and most diverse organization of public health professionals in the world and is dedicated to improving public health.

UC's College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services has been dedicated to excellence in education for more than a century. With more than 38,000 alumni, close to 5,000 undergraduate and graduate students and more than 350 faculty and staff, the college prepares students to work in diverse communities, provides continual professional development and fosters education leadership at the local, state, national and international levels.

University of Cincinnati

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