Non-medical prescription drug use more common among rural teens than city dwellers

Nov 01, 2010

Rural teens appear more likely than their urban peers to use prescription drugs for non-medical purposes, according to a report posted online today that will appear in the March 2011 print issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

The non-medical use of prescription drugs is common among U.S. adolescents, with about one in eight reporting lifetime non-medical use of prescription opioids, according to background information in the article. "During adolescence, non-medical prescription drug use is particularly problematic given its association with use of other illicit drugs such as cocaine and heroin, as well as engagement in problem behaviors such as gambling, increased sexual activity and impulsivity," the authors write. "Moreover, individuals who use prescription drugs earlier in life have a greater chance of later developing prescription drug dependence."

Previous studies have examined substance abuse among urban teens, but their conclusions may not apply to those from rural areas, the authors note. Jennifer R. Havens, Ph.D., M.P.H., of University of Kentucky College of Medicine, Lexington, and colleagues analyzed data from 17,872 12- to 17-year-olds participating in the 2008 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Of these, 53.2 percent lived in urban areas, 51 percent were male and 59 percent were white.

There were no differences between urban and rural youth in rates of any illicit drug use, including marijuana, cocaine, heroin and hallucinogens. However, 13 percent of rural teens reported ever having used prescription drugs for non-medical purposes, compared with 10 percent of urban teens. When the researchers assessed specific medication types, they found rural teens were also more likely to have used pain relievers (11.5 percent vs. 10.3 percent) or tranquilizers (3.5 percent vs. 2.5 percent) non-medically.

After adjusting for sociodemographic factors, health status and the use of other substances, rural teens remained 26 percent more likely than urban adolescents to say they had used prescription drugs for non-medical purposes. "Data support that one reason for the higher prevalence of non-medical prescription drug use in rural areas may be the lack of availability of drugs such as heroin that are easily accessed in urban areas," the authors write.

Rural teens were more likely to misuse if they reported poorer health, episodes of depression or other substance abuse. "Residing in a household with two parents was associated with a 32 percent reduction in the odds of non-medical prescription drug use," the authors write. "These results suggest that interventions aimed at family involvement may be beneficial in preventing or reducing non-medical prescription drug use." Enrollment in school was also a protective factor.

"The cultural, structural and social realities of rural life can not only affect the prevalence of drug use but also exacerbate its consequences. The isolation and self-reliance of rural communities can negatively affect careseeking behavior, particularly regarding mental health and substance abuse services," the authors write. "While we were able to identify potential targets for intervention such as increased access to health, mental health and treatment, this may be difficult for rural areas where such resources are in short supply or non-existent. Research into the causal mechanisms surrounding initiation of non-medical prescription drug use in rural adolescents is necessary to develop tailored interventions for this population."

Explore further: Oil-swishing craze: Snake oil or all-purpose remedy?

More information: Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. Published online November 1, 2010. doi:10.1001/archpediatrics.2010.217

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Suddenly health insurance is not for sale

Apr 18, 2014

(HealthDay)— Darlene Tucker, an independent insurance broker in Scotts Hill, Tenn., says health insurers in her area aren't selling policies year-round anymore.

Study: Half of jailed NYC youths have brain injury (Update)

Apr 18, 2014

About half of all 16- to 18-year-olds coming into New York City's jails say they had a traumatic brain injury before being incarcerated, most caused by assaults, according to a new study that's the latest in a growing body ...

Autonomy and relationships among 'good life' goals

Apr 18, 2014

Young adults with Down syndrome have a strong desire to be self-sufficient by living independently and having a job, according to a study into the meaning of wellbeing among young people affected by the disorder.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

Study says we're over the hill at 24

(Medical Xpress)—It's a hard pill to swallow, but if you're over 24 years of age you've already reached your peak in terms of your cognitive motor performance, according to a new Simon Fraser University study.

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.