Prevalence and correlates of nonmedical use of prescription drugs (NMUPD)among Young adults experiencing homelessness in seven cities across the United States

Anamika Barman-Adhikari, Hsun Ta Hsu, Daphne Brydon, Robin Petering, Diane Santa Maria, Sarah Narendorf, Jama Shelton, Kimberly Bender, Kristin Ferguson

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    13 Scopus citations


    Background: Nonmedical use of prescription drugs (NMUPD)is an urgent public health concern facing the United States. Young adults experiencing homelessness (YEH)are at increased risk of NMUPD; however, community estimates of NMUPD among YEH are sparse. This current study sought to understand patterns and correlates of NMUPD in a geographically heterogeneous sample of YEH recruited from seven cities across the United States. Methods: From June 2016 to July 2017, 1,426 YEH (aged 18–26)were recruited from seven cities (Houston, Los Angeles, Denver, Phoenix, New York City, St. Louis, San Jose). Participants provided information on substance use, mental health, trauma, and sexual-risk behaviors. Multivariable logistic regression was utilized to assess demographic, psychological, and behavioral correlates of self-reported past-month NMUPD and NMUPD types (i.e., prescription stimulant, sedative, and opioids). Results: Approximately 20% of participants reported past-month NMUPD. Almost 9% reported misusing prescription opioids, 8.7% misused prescription sedatives, and 6% misused prescription stimulants. Multivariable logistic regressions revealed unmet mental health needs were associated with sedative and stimulant misuse but not opioid misuse. Having suicidal thoughts was associated with opioid misuse but not sedative or stimulant misuse. Although no geographical differences emerged for stimulant and sedative misuse, youth from Denver, Phoenix, and San Jose were more likely to engage in opioid misuse relative to youth in Los Angeles. Conclusions: These findings indicate that interventions designed to address NMUPD need to be multifaceted, designed to address other risk behaviors correlated with NMUPD, and target unmet mental health needs.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)153-160
    Number of pages8
    JournalDrug and alcohol dependence
    StatePublished - Jul 1 2019


    • Mental health
    • Nonmedical use of prescription drugs
    • Sexual risk
    • Substance use
    • Suicide
    • Young adults experiencing homelessness

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Toxicology
    • Pharmacology
    • Psychiatry and Mental health
    • Pharmacology (medical)


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