Teen sexual activity and gambling associated with taking nonprescribed medications to get high

Nov 18, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Taking nonprescribed medication has become an emerging problem, especially among teens. When using these substances to get high, students are more likely to engage in bad behaviors than those who don't, a new University of Michigan study shows.

Kids between the ages of 12-17 who use nonprescribed medications to get high or as an alternative to street drugs—described as sensation seekers—are likely to binge drink, gamble and become sexually active.

"Nonmedical use of represents an unacceptable health risk," said Carol Boyd, director of the Institute for Research on Women and Gender and a nurse researcher specializing in substance abuse issues.

U-M researchers examined nonmedical use of prescription medications by adolescents and its relationship to other problem behaviors, depression and acting impulsively.

The analysis included data from 912 teens divided in four groups: those who did not use prescription medications; those who used their own prescribed medications; those who engaged in nonmedical use for self-treatment motivations; and those who engaged in nonmedical use for sensation-seeking motivations.

Students were asked about their motives and frequency in using drugs—such as sleeping, , and pain medication—not prescribed to them.

Respondents were characterized as "self-treaters" if they reported past year nonmedical use for therapeutic reasons only. "Sensation seekers" used the medications to get high, experiment or as an alternative to street drugs.

Thirty-seven percent of the sample reported having a legal prescription for at least one of the four drug classes within the previous year. However, 546 respondents (60 percent) reported "no annual use" of prescription medications. Girls were more likely than boys to be medical users (33 percent vs. 25 percent) and self-treaters (11 percent vs. 4 percent) although there was no statistical difference between boys and girls relative to sensation seeking.

Nearly 8 percent of the respondents (71 students) indicated nonmedical use for self-treatment purposes in the past year, while 3 percent (28 students) used for sensation-seeking. Pain medication was the most frequently reported controlled medication used, for both medical and nonmedical reasons. This corresponds with other national studies.

Researchers did not find any differences among groups pertaining to depression, although all nonmedical users had higher impulsivity scores than students who used their medications correctly or did not use at all.

Health providers—from doctors and nurses to dentists and pharmacists—should communicate with their teen patients about the health and safety risks of giving medications to others or using nonprescribed medicines, Boyd said. In addition, health providers should alert parents about the importance of controlling and counting their children's pills.

"Most certainly, parents should restrict availability and not leave medicines on countertops or in unlocked medicine cabinets," she said. "Parents must role-model safe behaviors when it comes to prescribed medicines. Do not share (medications) among family members and talk to children about the importance of taking medicines only as prescribed."

Boyd collaborated on the study with Amy Young, Melissa Grey and Sean McCabe of the U-M's Substance Abuse Research Center and Institute for Research on Women and Gender.

The study, "Adolescents' Nonmedical Use of Prescription Medications and Other ," was funded by the National Institutes of Health and will appear in the December 2009 issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health.

Provided by University of Michigan (news : web)

Explore further: US adult smoking rate drops to new low: CDC

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Older adults at high risk for drug interactions

Dec 23, 2008

At least one in 25 older adults, about 2.2 million people in the United States, take multiple drugs in combinations that can produce a harmful drug-drug interaction, and half of these interactions involve a non-prescription ...

Some drugs increase risk of falling

Jul 09, 2008

Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have created a list of prescription drugs that increase the risk of falling for patients aged 65 and older who take four or more medications on a regular basis.

Tweens and teens double use of diabetes drugs

Nov 03, 2008

America's tweens and teens more than doubled their use of type 2 diabetes medications between 2002 and 2005, with girls between 10 and 14 years of age showing a 166 percent increase. One likely cause: Obesity, which is closely ...

Recommended for you

Don't let high altitude ruin your holiday trip

1 hour ago

(HealthDay)—When you're planning your holiday get-away, don't forget to factor high altitude into your vacation sports—such as skiing or hiking, a sports medicine specialist cautions.

How physicians are adapting to payment reform

8 hours ago

Private and public healthcare providers in the U.S. are increasingly turning to the "pay-for-performance" model, in which physicians and hospitals are paid if they meet healthcare quality and efficiency targets. ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

jerryd
not rated yet Nov 19, 2009

Let's see, kids doing risky behaviors are likely to do risky behaviors!! Man these guys are genius' ;^P !!

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.