Arizona Stands Against Teen Medicine Abuse

In 2014, Arizona became the fifth state to enact legislation to prevent the sale of over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicines containing dextromethorphan (DXM) to minors. I am proud to have worked with the Arizona legislature to take this significant step toward teenage substance abuse prevention. 

DXM is the active ingredient in most OTC cough medicines. When taken according to labeling instructions, these medicines provide millions of consumers with safe and effective relief from cold symptoms. But when taken in excess, DXM can have dissociative and dangerous effects. Further, these risks increase when DXM is combined with other substances, such as alcohol. 

Today, one in 30 teens abuses DXM to get “high” by consuming up to 25 times the recommended dose of OTC cough medicine. Since DXM can be obtained legally, easily and inexpensively, teens may mistakenly believe that it is less dangerous to abuse than illegal drugs. 

The issue of teen substance abuse is especially important to my husband and I as we raise our daughter who is in her teen years. Part of my responsibility as a state legislator is to create laws that protect families and neighborhoods. I believe that this law helps us work towards that goal. 

Arizona’s age-18 sales law helps keep DXM out of the hands of those that seek to abuse it, and combats the dangerous mentality that DXM is harmless to abuse because it is legal. This law not only aims to decrease the abuse rate of OTC cough medicines by teens, it also maintains access for the millions of legitimate consumers who use these products responsibly each year.  

Want to do your part to prevent teenage OTC cough medicine abuse? Learn how what you can do to get involved here. Together, we can stop medicine abuse and create healthier, safer communities. 

Representative Heather Carter

Arizona State Representative Heather Carter (R-Cave Creek) has served her district, which includes Phoenix, Cave Creek, and North Scottsdale, since 2010. Currently, she is the Chairperson of the House Health Committee, and the ranking Republican member of the House Education Committee. 

Since moving to Arizona over 25 years ago, she has devoted her professional life to making Arizona a quality place to live, learn, work and prosper. For her work, Representative Carter has won many prestigious awards from education groups, veteran organizations, healthcare and patient advocacy groups, including many other honors. 

Married for 20 years, Representative Carter and her husband reside in Cave Creek with their daughter, who attends public school.