Teens Who Misuse Controlled Meds More Likely to Abuse Drugs

Among teens who take controlled meds, 22 percent report misuse, including intentionally getting high

THURSDAY, Aug. 4 (HealthDay News) -- Among adolescents who take at least one prescribed controlled medication, 22 percent report misuse, and misusers are significantly more likely to have a positive screening result for drug abuse, according to a study published in the August issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

Sean Esteban McCabe, Ph.D., from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and colleagues investigated the prevalence of past-year medical misuse for four classes of controlled medication (pain, stimulant, sleeping, and anti-anxiety) among 2,744 secondary school students who responded to a Web-based survey. Substance use outcomes were also assessed in those reporting medical misuse. Past-year medical use and misuse of the controlled medication classes were the main outcome measures.

The investigators found that 18 percent of the respondents reported past-year medical use of at least one prescribed controlled medication. Among these individuals, 22 percent reported misuse, including taking too much, intentionally getting high, or using the medication to increase the effects of alcohol or other drugs. Diversion of controlled medications and abuse of other substances were more likely in medical misusers than nonmisusers. Medical misusers were significantly more likely to have a positive screening result for drug abuse compared to those who used their controlled medications in an appropriate manner (adjusted odds ratio, 7.8). Medical users who used their controlled medications appropriately and nonusers did not have different odds of drug abuse.

"Our study found strong associations between the misuse of prescribed controlled medications and substance abuse and diversion of controlled medications," the authors write.

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