SOURCE: AACEP

August 23, 2006 06:00 ET

Research Shows an Alarming Number of Children Are Turning to Over-the-Counter Products to Get High

Advocate Group, AACEP, Provides Parents With Tips to Keep Their Kids Safe

LOS ANGELES, CA -- (MARKET WIRE) -- August 23, 2006 -- A growing number of kids today are ingesting a dangerous amount of common, over-the-counter products such as mouthwash, cough medicine and vanilla extract to get high. These everyday products not only contain dangerously high alcohol levels but are easily accessible to children.

According to research, one in 10 teenagers, or 2.4 million, have intentionally used cough medicine to get high(1) and more than 135,000 documented non-beverage ethanol (NBE) ingestion cases are reported each year.(2)

With this in mind, a recently formed advocacy group, AACEP (Awareness of Alcohol Content in Everyday Products), warns parents across the country to identify potentially harmful products in the household and monitor children's behavior and activities.

"In a trip to the local grocery store, I found more than 50 over-the-counter products containing between 12 and 30 percent alcohol. That's more than a can of beer (5 percent) and a glass of wine (12 to 14 percent)," said Raquel Lothridge, AACEP Board Member.

"Besides causing the impairment normally associated with abusing alcohol, when ingested improperly, these products can cause hypoglycemia and induce a seizure or coma. And if more than 5 percent of ethanol enters into the bloodstream, it can even be fatal,"(3) said ER physician Alan Reyes, MD. "Our concern is that kids are unaware of the grave risks involved in ingesting these products for recreational use."

As children head back to school this fall, parents should pay special attention to changes in behavior, peer social networks, purchases and pastime activities. For additional information on recognizing signs of NBE abuse, please visit www.aacep.org.

To help keep your kids and home NBE-free, AACEP recommends the following helpful tips:

  1.Clean House - Look through cupboards, medicine cabinets and
    children's bedrooms. Check out ingredients in suspect products, as
    many products contain dangerous levels of ethanol.

  2.Buy Smart - Read labels prior to purchasing items for the
    household. In many cases, there are alcohol-free alternatives to
    products such as mouthwash, cough and cold remedies, vanilla
    extract, aftershave lotions, hair spray and rubbing alcohol.

  3.Lock the Medicine Cabinet - Much like the liquor cabinet, lock
    medicine away (liquid and/or pills) in a safe place and advise
    children to respect over-the-counter products.

  4.Keep Kids Active - The best defense is a good offense. Involve
    them in sports, after-school clubs and/or any activities monitored
    by an adult.

  5.Search for the Signs - NBEs are known to cause behavioral changes,
    impaired judgment, slurred speech and even unconsciousness, even
    when taken in lower concentrations.

AACEP, whose mission is to serve as advocates for change and help raise parents' awareness levels of the harmful effects of NBE found in over-the-counter products, is reaching out to parents across the country through a grassroots national awareness campaign. These initiatives will be supported via public relations activities and an educational website for parents to seek additional information about NBE abuse.

About AACEP

AACEP is comprised of individuals helping to serve as advocates for social change and as a resource for parents, teachers and others concerned about the growing non-beverage ethanol (NBE) epidemic among today's youth. Its panel of board members, from substance abuse leaders to school officials and even medical personnel, act as public spokespeople for the group, helping educate parents on the risks of abusing over-the-counter products.

  (1) "The Partnership Attitude Tracking Study" (PATS) Teens in grades
      7-12, 2005. The Partnership for a Drug-Free America. May 16, 2006.
  (2) Watson, A. Annual Report of the American Association of Poison
      Control Centers Toxic Exposure Surveillance System (2004).
  (3) The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. "Ethanol" 2001-2005.

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