FDA warns of ‘highly unsafe’ social media trends targeting teens

The Food and Drug Administration is warning parents and teens of “highly unsafe” social media trends, including one recent trending online with cooking chicken at NyQuil.

The challenge — which the FDA called “stupid and unappetizing” and “highly unsafe” — encourages people to cook chicken in NyQuil or another similar over-the-counter cough and cold medicine before eating it.

It’s unclear how many people have participated in this trend, though the FDA has taken the step to warn against it.

“Social media trends and peer pressure can be a dangerous combination for your children and their friends, especially when it comes to drug abuse,” the FDA said in a statement denouncing the trend. One social media trend that relies on peer pressure is online video clips of people abusing non-prescription drugs and encouraging viewers to do the same. These video challenges, often targeting young people, can harm people — and even cause death.”

Boiling a drug can make it much more concentrated and alter its properties, the FDA warns.

“Even if you don’t eat the chicken, inhaling the fumes from the medication while cooking can cause high levels of the drugs to enter your body. It can also damage your lungs. Simply put, someone could be taking a dangerously high amount of the cough and cold medication without even realizing it,” the FDA continued.

This isn’t the first time the FDA has had to issue a public warning against dangerous online social media trends.

An undated sign outside a Food and Drug Administration office building.

Government Accountability Office

Two years ago, another challenge that started on TikTok urged people to take large doses of Benadryl in an attempt to induce hallucinations. This prompted the FDA to issue a public warning about how dangerous the practice was after news reports surfaced of teens having to go to the emergency room — and in some cases, die — after taking too much medication.

“Non-prescription drugs (also called over-the-counter drugs) are readily available in many homes, making these challenges even more risky,” the FDA said of the latest challenge. “OTC drugs can pose significant risks if misused or misused.”

The FDA said there are things you can do to protect your children from these harmful social media trends.

The most effective way to ensure safety is to sit down with your children and discuss the dangers of drug abuse.

“Social media trends can lead to real, sometimes irreversible damage,” the FDA said. “Remind your children that overdoses can occur with both OTC and prescription drugs.”

Another way to protect against harmful trends is to keep both OTC and prescription drugs away from children by locking them in the house to prevent accidental overdose. In addition, when administering medication, always make sure to read the drug facts label and how to use it.

“The label states what the medicine should do, who should or should not take it and how to use it. [It] uses simple language and an easy-to-read format to help people compare and select drugs and follow dosing instructions,” the FDA said.

The FDA has issued a broad warning to beware of all online trending challenges related to any kind of drug, whether prescription or over-the-counter.

“Social media challenge or not, it’s important to use drugs as intended.”