Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Young people driving epidemic of prescription drug abuse, study finds; Abuse of nonmedical analgesics up 40 percent

Date:
October 16, 2012
Source:
University of Colorado Denver
Summary:
A new study reveals that today's adolescents are abusing prescription drugs at a rate 40 percent higher than previous generations. That makes it the second most common form of illegal drug use in the U.S. after marijuana.

A new study by the University of Colorado Denver reveals that today's adolescents are abusing prescription pain medications like vicodin, valium and oxycontin at a rate 40 percent higher than previous generations.

That makes it the second most common form of illegal drug use in the U.S. after marijuana, according to Richard Miech, Ph.D., lead author of the study and professor of sociology at CU Denver.

"Prescription drug use is the next big epidemic," Miech said. "Everyone in this field has recognized that there is a big increase in the abuse of nonmedical analgesics but our study shows that it is accelerating among today's generation of adolescents."

The study was published Tuesday in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

It drew on data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, a series of annual, nationally representative, cross-sectional surveys of U.S. drug use. The analysis used data from 1985 through 2009.

According to Miech, the prevalence of prescription pain medication abuse among the current generation of youth is "higher than any generation ever measured." This finding was present among subgroups of men, women, non-Hispanic whites, non-Hispanic blacks and Hispanics.

Miech and his co-authors said a number of factors were driving this trend.

"The increasing availability of analgesics in the general population is well documented, as the total number of hydrocodone and oxycodone products prescribed legally in the U.S. increased more than fourfold from about 40 million in 1991 to nearly 180 million in 2007," the study said. "Higher prevalence of analgesics makes first-time NAU among contemporary youth easier than in the past because more homes have prescription analgesics in their medicine cabinets."

Miech said parents often model drug use behavior for their children.

"Youth who observe their parents taking analgesics as prescribed may come to the conclusion that any use of these drugs is OK and safe," he said.

Yet the consequences are often severe.

Miech said there are now more deaths due to accidental overdoses of these drugs than deaths due to overdoses of cocaine and heroin combined.

Most people who abuse prescription pain relievers report that they obtained them from family or friends.

"While most people recognize the dangers of leaving a loaded gun lying around the house," said Miech, "what few people realize is that far more people die as a result of unsecured prescription medications."

According to the study:

  • Nonmedical analgesic use accounted for an increase in emergency room visits of 129 percent between 2004 and 2009.
  • Between 1997 and 2007, NAU accounted for more than a 500 percent increase in the number of Americans seeking treatment for prescription opioid dependency.
  • Prescription drug abuse led to a threefold increase in unintentional overdose mortality from the 1990s to 2007.

Miech, who studies drug abuse issues, published a paper last year in the American Sociological Review showing that of the 100 top causes of death, the biggest increase has been prescription drug overdose.

He concludes his more recent study by saying that there seems to be little social cost in abusing nonmedical analgesics.

"These results suggest that current policies and interventions are not yet effective enough to counter the factors that have increased nonmedical analgesic use among U.S. youth and the general population," he said. "But it is critical that we devise a strategy to deal with an epidemic that shows little sign of ebbing."

The study's other researchers include Kennon Heard, MD, of the University of Colorado School of Medicine; Jason Boardman, Ph.D., of the University of Colorado Boulder and Amy Bohnert, Ph.D., of the Department of Veterans Affairs, HSR&D Center of Excellence and the Serious Mental Illness Treatment Resource and Evaluation Center, Ann Arbor, MI.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Colorado Denver. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Richard Miech, Amy Bohnert, Kennon Heard, Jason Boardman. Increasing Use of Nonmedical Analgesics Among Younger Cohorts in the United States: A Birth Cohort Effect. Journal of Adolescent Health, 2012; DOI: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2012.07.016

Cite This Page:

University of Colorado Denver. "Young people driving epidemic of prescription drug abuse, study finds; Abuse of nonmedical analgesics up 40 percent." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 October 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121016092848.htm>.
University of Colorado Denver. (2012, October 16). Young people driving epidemic of prescription drug abuse, study finds; Abuse of nonmedical analgesics up 40 percent. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121016092848.htm
University of Colorado Denver. "Young people driving epidemic of prescription drug abuse, study finds; Abuse of nonmedical analgesics up 40 percent." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121016092848.htm (accessed October 2, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Pregnancy Spacing Could Have Big Impact On Autism Risks

Pregnancy Spacing Could Have Big Impact On Autism Risks

Newsy (Oct. 1, 2014) A new study says children born less than one year and more than five years after a sibling can have an increased risk for autism. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Patient Told Hospital He Was from Liberia

Ebola Patient Told Hospital He Was from Liberia

AP (Oct. 1, 2014) The first Ebola patient diagnosed in the U.S. initially went to a Dallas emergency room last week but was sent home, despite telling a nurse that he had been in disease-ravaged West Africa, the hospital acknowledged Wednesday. (Oct. 1) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Robotic Hair Restoration

Robotic Hair Restoration

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) A new robotic procedure is changing the way we transplant hair. The ARTAS robot leaves no linear scarring and provides more natural results. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Insertable Cardiac Monitor

Insertable Cardiac Monitor

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) A heart monitor the size of a paperclip that can save your life. The “Reveal Linq” allows a doctor to monitor patients with A-Fib on a continuous basis for up to 3 years! Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins