A qualitative study of cough medicine abuse among Chinese young people in Hong Kong

Ching Man Lam, Tan Lei Shek

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Drug abuse has been a social problem for many years and is often complicated by the emergence of new types of abused drugs or new forms of abuse. Abuse of cough medicine has been a focus of concern in Hong Kong since the late 1980s. This paper describes the findings of a qualitative study of the phenomenon of cough medicine abuse in Hong Kong. Focus group interviews were conducted to explore the perceived causes and effects of cough medicine abuse among Chinese young people in Hong Kong. The results from focus group interviews with cough medicine abusers, their family members, and service providers reveal that the primary factors accounting for adolescent cough medicine abuse are social pressure (peer and environmental influences), personal problems (evasion and avoidance), family (difficult relationships or harmful incidents), availability (ease of access), and ignorance. The research participants reported that their cough medicine dependence had serious side effects that threatened their physical and psychological wellbeing, as well as their interpersonal and family relationships. Based on the findings, several recommendations for the prevention of cough medicine abuse are proposed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)233-244
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Substance Use
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescent
  • Cough medicine abuse
  • Hong Kong

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Health(social science)

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