Developmental course of non-medical use of prescription drugs from adolescence to adulthood in the United States: national longitudinal data

Sean Esteban Mccabe, Deborah D. Kloska, Philip Veliz, Justin Jager, John E. Schulenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

16 Scopus citations

Abstract

Aims: To identify the developmental course of non-medical use of four separate prescription drug classes (opioids, sedatives, stimulants and tranquilizers) by examining the general functional growth and related covariates during the transition from adolescence to adulthood in the United States. Design: Nationally representative probability samples of high school seniors were followed longitudinally across five waves (waves 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5: modal ages 18, 19/20, 21/22, 23/24 and 25/26 years, respectively). Setting: Data were collected via self-administered questionnaires to high school seniors and young adults in the United States. Participants: The sample consisted of nearly 72 000 individuals in 30 cohorts (high school senior years of 1977–2006) who participated in at least one wave. Measurements: Self-reports of annual non-medical use of prescription opioids, sedatives, stimulants, and tranquilizers. Findings: The annual non-medical use of prescription opioids, sedatives, stimulants and tranquilizers was highest at wave 1 over the five waves. There was a consistent descending path (linear and quadratic slopes, P < 0.001) in annual non-medical use from baseline across all four prescription drug classes (e.g. opioids linear slope = −0.043 and opioids quadratic slope = 0.034, P < 0.001). While the annual non-medical use of stimulants declined over time (linear slope = 0.063, P < 0.01; quadratic slope = −0.133, P < 0.001), the same decrease was not observed for the annual non-medical use of prescription opioids, sedatives or tranquilizers when controlling for socio-demographic and substance use behaviors at baseline. The covariates associated with the general functional growth differed across the four prescription drug classes. Conclusions: The non-medical use of prescription opioids, sedatives, stimulants and tranquilizers appears to peak during late adolescence, suggesting preventive intervention efforts should be initiated in early adolescence. The developmental course of non-medical use is not the same among all four classes of prescription drugs, suggesting that each drug class warrants individual research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2166-2176
Number of pages11
JournalAddiction
Volume111
Issue number12
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016

Keywords

  • Adolescence
  • longitudinal
  • non-medical use
  • prescription drugs
  • prescription opioids
  • prescription sedatives
  • prescription stimulants
  • young adulthood

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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