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Am J Prev Med. 2019 Aug 13. pii: S0749-3797(19)30270-3. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2019.05.017. [Epub ahead of print]

Prescription Opioid Misuse Associated With Risk Behaviors Among Adolescents.

Author information

1
Division of Adolescent and School Health, National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia. Electronic address: hhc9@cdc.gov.
2
Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia.
3
Division of Adolescent and School Health, National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia.

Abstract

INTRODUCTION:

With the ongoing opioid overdose epidemic in the U.S., it is important to explore how prescription opioid misuse correlates with health behaviors that increase the risk for adverse health outcomes among adolescents. The objective of this study is to determine if lifetime nonmedical use of prescription opioids is associated with health risk behaviors among adolescents.

METHODS:

Data from the 2017 nationally representative Youth Risk Behavior Survey (14,765 high school students in Grades 9-12) were used to explore associations between lifetime nonmedical use of prescription opioids and 29 health risk behaviors. Logistic regression models (adjusted for sex, race/ethnicity, grade, and sexual identity) estimated adjusted prevalence ratios and 95% CIs. Analyses were completed in 2018.

RESULTS:

Nonmedical use of prescription opioids was associated with all but 1 of the health risk behaviors included in the analyses. Substance use ranged from adjusted prevalence ratio=2.46 (current alcohol use) to adjusted prevalence ratio=17.52 (heroin use); violence victimization from adjusted prevalence ratio=1.80 (bullied at school) to adjusted prevalence ratio=3.12 (threatened or injured with a weapon); suicidal thoughts/behaviors from adjusted prevalence ratio=2.23 (considered suicide) to adjusted prevalence ratio=3.45 (attempted suicide); and sexual behavior from adjusted prevalence ratio=1.06 (did not use a dual pregnancy prevention method) to adjusted prevalence ratio=3.42 (4 or more sexual partners). Poor academic performance (adjusted prevalence ratio=1.53), receiving an HIV test (adjusted prevalence ratio=1.77), and having persistent feelings of sadness/hopelessness (adjusted prevalence ratio=1.80) were also associated with nonmedical use of prescription opioids.

CONCLUSIONS:

Nonmedical use of prescription opioids is associated with many health risk behaviors. Opportunities to reduce nonmedical use of prescription opioids include screening pediatric patients for opioid use disorder, improved prescribing practices, and, from a primary prevention perspective, integrated evidence-based health education programs in schools.

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