While millions of Americans safely rely on over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicine to temporarily relieve cough symptoms, approximately 1 in 32 teens reports abusing it to get high.

The first step in preventing this abuse is educating yourself.


Dextromethorphan (DXM) is the active ingredient in most OTC cough medicines. Approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in the 1950s, DXM is the most widely used cough suppressant ingredient in the United States. When taken according to labeling instructions, medicines that contain DXM are safe and effective. However, when taken in excessive amounts higher than recommended doses, DXM can produce dangerous side effects.


More than 100 OTC medicines containing DXM are on the market today.  These medicines come in the form of liquids, capsules, gelcaps, lozenges and tablets. Common DXM-containing cough medicines include many forms of Alka Seltzer Plus™, Comtrex™, Coricidin™, Delsym™, Dimetapp™, Mucinex DM™, Pediacare™, Robitussin™, Theraflu™,  Triaminic™, Tylenol Cough & Cold™, Vicks DayQuil™/NyQuil™, Vicks Formula 44™ and more, including store brand versions of these products.  For a full list of DXM-containing cough medicines, click here.

Were you previously aware that cough medicines were something teens could abuse?

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Identifying DXM-containing products

1. Look for the Stop Medicine Abuse icon on medicine boxes and bottle.

2. Read the DRUG FACTS label to look for dextromethorphan in the Active Ingredients.