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Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 2017 Mar;52(3):291-298. doi: 10.1007/s00127-016-1312-6. Epub 2016 Nov 17.

Is employment status in adults over 25 years old associated with nonmedical prescription opioid and stimulant use?

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Department of Epidemiology, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, 722 168th St., Rm. 518, New York, NY, 10032, USA.
Centre de Recherche Épidémiologie et Statistique Sorbonne Paris Cité UMR1153, Université Paris Descartes, Hôpital Hôtel-Dieu, 1 place du Parvis Notre-Dame, 75004, Paris, France.
Boston University School of Public Health, 715 Albany St, Boston, MA, 02118, USA.
Department of Epidemiology, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, 722 168th St., Rm. 518, New York, NY, 10032, USA.
Department of Pediatric Hematology, Oncology and Stem Cell Transplantation, Columbia University Medical Center, 161 Ft. Washington Avenue IP7, New York, NY, 10032, USA.



Nonmedical use of prescription opioid and stimulants (NMUPO and NMUPS, respectively) has declined in recent years, but remains an important public health problem. Evidence regarding their relationships with employment status remains unclear. We determined the relationship between employment status and NMUPO and NMUPS.


We analyzed a cross-sectional, nationally representative, weighted sample of 58,486 adults, ages 26 years and older, using combined 2011-2013 data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). We fit two crude and two adjusted multivariable logistic regression models to assess the relationship between our two different outcomes of interest: (1) past-year NMUPO and (2) past-year NMUPS, and our exposure of interest: employment status, categorized as (1) full time, (2) part time, (3) unemployed, and (4) not in the workforce. Our adjusted models featured the following covariates: sex, race, age, marital status, and psychological distress, and other nonmedical use.


Prevalence of NMUPO was higher than NMUPS (3.48 vs. 0.72%). Unemployed participants had the highest odds of NMUPO [aOR 1.45, 95% CI (1.15-1.82)], while those not in the workforce had the highest odds of NMUPS [aOR 1.71, 95% CI (1.22-2.37)]. Additionally, part-time and unemployed individuals had increased odds of NMUPS [aORs, 95% CI 1.59 (1.09-2.31) and 1.67 (1.11-2.37) respectively], while those not in the workforce had decreased odds of NMUPO [aOR 0.82, 95% CI (0.68-0.99)] relative to full-time participants.


There is a need for adult prevention and deterrence programs that target nonmedical prescription drug use, especially among those unemployed or not in the workforce.


Employment; Epidemiology; Nonmedical prescription drug use; Opioid; Stimulant

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