Rural Teens More Likely to Abuse Prescription Drugs

Non-medical use of prescription drugs 26 percent more likely in rural teens than urban teens

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 3 (HealthDay News) -- Adolescents living in rural areas are significantly more likely to abuse prescription drugs than their counterparts in urban areas, according to a study published online Nov. 1 in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

Jennifer R. Havens, Ph.D., of the University of Kentucky College of Medicine in Lexington, and colleagues analyzed data on 17,872 adolescents from the 2008 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. The researchers compared the prevalence of non-medical prescription drug use, including pain relievers, sedatives, stimulants, and tranquilizers, among adolescents (aged 12 to 17) living in urban, suburban, and rural settings.

The researchers found that adolescents living in rural areas were 26 percent more likely than those in urban areas to have used prescription drugs non-medically. In comparison, suburban adolescents were 4 percent more likely to have used prescription drugs non-medically than those in urban areas. Non-medical prescription drug use among rural adolescents was associated with diminished health status, having had a major depressive episode, and use of alcohol or other drugs, such as marijuana, cocaine, hallucinogens, and inhalants. However, among rural adolescents, school enrollment and living in a two-parent household were factors protective against non-medical use of prescription drugs.

"Rural adolescents were significantly more likely than urban adolescents to report non-medical prescription drug use. However, these results suggest there are multiple potential points of intervention to prevent initiation or progression of use among rural adolescents, including preventing school dropout, increased parental involvement, and increased access to health, mental health, and substance abuse treatment," the authors write.

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