Prescription Drug Misuse Characteristics in Adolescents and Young Adults: Influence of School Enrollment
Schepis Research: “Prescription Drug Misuse Characteristics in Adolescents and Young Adults: Influence of School Enrollment”
This is a program of research, funded through a three-year R01 award from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA; $572,757) that examines prescription medication misuse in adolescents and young adults. Past research looking at other drugs of abuse suggests that adolescents who have dropped out of school have higher rates of substance use. In young adults, the picture is more complex, with potentially elevated alcohol use in young adults in college but greater rates of other substance use in young adults not in school.
The primary aims of this research program are to look at prescription medication misuse in adolescents and young adults, with a particular focus on school enrollment on such misuse. Initial findings, published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence, indicated that adolescents who had dropped out of school had higher rates of prescription misuse; notably, adolescent in school but at-risk for dropout also had elevated misuse rates. In young adults, college students and recent college graduates had higher rates of stimulant medication misuse, while young adults not in college had higher rates of opioid misuse. Together, these results highlight adolescents not in school as a higher risk group for prescription misuse, and the results point to a need to address stimulant misuse in college students.
A second set of findings, published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, examined sources of medication for misuse in young adults. This work found that young adults who purchased medication or used multiple sources to obtain medication for misuse had higher rates of other substance use or a use disorder diagnosis from prescription misuse. Young adults not in college were more likely to purchase medication for misuse, suggesting a riskier profile. Work under review for publication has examined prescription misuse sources in adolescents, with some suggestions of riskier source use in adolescents not in school.
Together, this ongoing research program points to the importance of school engagement in adolescents and young adults in understanding prescription medication misuse. This work has also helped better contextualize the processes related to prescription misuse in adolescents and young adults through highlighting the role of medication sources and motives (in an article in the Journal of Pharmacy Practice). Future work under this award will look further at motives for prescription misuse, the role of psychological disorders and simultaneous misuse of a medication with alcohol use, further helping clinicians and researchers understand prescription misuse.
DISCLAIMER: Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse of the National Institutes of Health, under Award Number R01DA043691. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.