Prior Substance Abuse Linked to Opioid Abuse in Young Men

In young women, only prior marijuana use is associated with prescription opioid abuse

TUESDAY, Aug. 21 (HealthDay News) -- Any prior substance abuse is associated with current abuse of prescription opioids among 18- to 25-year-old men, but only previous marijuana use correlates with subsequent prescription opioid abuse in young women, according to a study published online Aug. 21 in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

To explore the association between alcohol, cigarette, and/or marijuana use during adolescence and subsequent prescription opioid abuse, Lynn E. Fiellin, M.D., from the Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn., and colleagues analyzed data from 6,496 community-dwelling individuals, aged 18 to 25 years, participating in the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (2006 to 2008).

The researchers found that current abuse of prescription opioids was reported by 12 percent of the study population. The prevalence of prior substance abuse was 57, 56, and 34 percent, respectively, for alcohol, cigarettes, and marijuana. For young men, but not young women, prior alcohol use correlated with the subsequent abuse of prescription opioids. Compared with no prior marijuana use, prior marijuana use increased the likelihood of subsequent abuse of prescription opioids 2.5-fold in both men and women. In young boys, all prior substance abuse (alcohol, cigarettes, and marijuana) correlated with an increased likelihood of subsequent abuse of prescription opioids during young adulthood, whereas for young girls there was only an association with prior marijuana use.

"Prevention efforts targeting early substance abuse may help to curb the abuse of prescription opioids," the authors write.

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