Many adolescents and young adults abuse prescribed psychoactive drugs

February 05, 2021

3 minute read


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According to the results of a study published in Family medicine and community health.

“This study draws attention to the silent epidemic of prescription stimulant use among school/college-aged youth; abuse of prescription stimulants among our study population exceeded their abuse of prescription opioids,” Israel AgakuDMD, MPH, PhD, from the Harvard School of Dental Medicine, Healio Psychiatry told. “With the growing popularity of performance-enhancing stimulants in school environments, it is imperative that policy makers, school administrators, healthcare professionals and parents become more aware of this emerging danger and take appropriate action, similar to what has been done for the opioid epidemic.Second, the study underscores the need for comprehensive strategies, especially given the strong associations between the use of over-the-counter substances, such as tobacco and alcohol, and prescription substance abuse.







Agaku and colleagues sought to assess the prevalence and correlates of medical use and abuse of psychoactive prescription drugs among 110,556 youth and young adults aged 12 to 25 in the United States. They analyzed data obtained from self-reported cross-sectional surveys included in the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, which used nationally representative probability sampling. Participants included people from households and neighborhoods of non-institutional groups, such as college dormitories, as well as civilians living on military bases, all of whom used computer-assisted self-interview methods to complete the questionnaires. . Researchers defined prescription psychoactive medication abuse as a participant’s report of using prescription psychoactive medication in a manner not directed or prescribed to them and medical use as use during the course of the study. previous year with no abuse report. They limited the multivariate analysis to identify correlates of abuse to 55,690 young adults aged 18 to 25, since some variables were only assessed in adults.

Results showed that 25% of American youth aged 12-17 reported having used a psychoactive prescription drug assessed, and 5.7% reported having used two or more prescription psychoactive drugs in the past year. . A total of 20.9% of those who used psychoactive prescription drugs reported abuse, of which 3.4% had a substance use disorder. The researchers noted that the use of each psychoactive prescription drug in the previous year was 19% for opioids, 7.2% for stimulants, 4.3% for tranquilizers and 2.2% for sedatives.

The estimated percentage of misuse of each prescription psychoactive medication was as follows:

  • 40.1% for tranquilizers; and

Users of each psychoactive prescription medication who had a substance use disorder were estimated at 2.6% for opioids, 3% for stimulants, 7% for tranquilizers and 3.6% for sedatives . Compared to people who have never used over-the-counter substances, such as alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, cocaine and heroin, young adults aged 18 to 25 who abused opioids had an increase in abuse associated with more recent use of over-the-counter substances and a higher number of substances used. Agaku and his colleagues observed similar patterns for stimulants, tranquilizers, and sedatives.

“For health care providers, there should be a recognition that holistic care involves more than just prescribing medications,” Agaku said. “Better patient-provider communication, including offering behavioral counseling when needed, can prevent unnecessary prescribing. Parents and other family members for whom these drugs are prescribed should be encouraged to assume more responsibility to keep them locked up and out of the reach of youth and young adults.Parents/caregivers/guardians, pharmacists, and clinicians need to be alert to behavioral markers of prescription drug misuse.

Alvin J. Chase