Adolescent intentional ingestions remain a significant public health problem in the United States with little research to date on the over-the-counter or prescription medicines that adolescents abuse. These data are important for anticipatory guidance by primary care providers, preventive health, and poison center outreach.
This was an observational study using the American Association of Poison Control Centers National Poison Data System. The study population consisted of all cases of patients aged 13 to 19 years from 2004 to 2013 with a coding of “intentional abuse.”
There were 95,695 patient calls that were coded for intentional abuse between 2004 and 2013 for adolescents aged 13 to 19 years. The most common agent reportedly ingested in intentional-abuse cases was antihistamine and/or decongestant with dextromethorphan, and this agent remained the most common throughout the 10-year study period. The next 4 most common agents remained similar across the study period as well and included ethanol, benzodiazepines, dextromethorphan alone, and marijuana. These 5 agents remained the most commonly reported across the study period for all US regions (West, Midwest, South Northeast, and US territories).
Over a recent 10-year period, common cough preparations remain the most commonly reported intentional abuse ingestion among all years and regions for adolescents.