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

How to keep your fitness goals on track

26 minutes ago

(HealthDay)—The New Year's resolutions many made to get fit have stalled by now. And one expert thinks that's because many people set their goals too high.

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 ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Low tolerance for pain? The reason may be in your genes

Researchers may have identified key genes linked to why some people have a higher tolerance for pain than others, according to a study released today that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 66th Annual ...

How to keep your fitness goals on track

(HealthDay)—The New Year's resolutions many made to get fit have stalled by now. And one expert thinks that's because many people set their goals too high.

Cancer stem cells linked to drug resistance

Most drugs used to treat lung, breast and pancreatic cancers also promote drug-resistance and ultimately spur tumor growth. Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have discovered ...

Making graphene in your kitchen

Graphene has been touted as a wonder material—the world's thinnest substance, but super-strong. Now scientists say it is so easy to make you could produce some in your kitchen.

Easter morning delivery for space station

Space station astronauts got a special Easter treat: a cargo ship full of supplies. The shipment arrived Sunday morning via the SpaceX company's Dragon cargo capsule.