Teens Who Misuse Opioids Likely to Engage in Other Risky Behaviors

Likelihood increased for engaging in 22 risky behaviors for those who misuse prescription opioids

taking medication

MONDAY, Jan. 6, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Adolescents who report misusing prescription opioids are more likely to have engaged in a range of other risky behaviors, according to a study published online Jan. 6 in Pediatrics.

Devika Bhatia, M.D., from the University of Colorado Denver in Aurora, and colleagues used data from 14,765 participants in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey of high school students to examine the correlation between misuse of prescription opioids and other risky behaviors. Researchers examined the strength of the association between ever misusing prescription opioids and 22 dependent variables (four risky driving behavior variables, three violent behavior variables, four risky sexual behavior variables, 10 substance use variables, and one suicide attempt variable).

The researchers found that 14 percent of U.S. adolescents reported ever misusing opioids in 2017. The likelihood of having engaged in all 22 risky behaviors was increased significantly for those who misused prescription opioids compared with other adolescents (adjusted odds ratios ranging from 2.0 to 22.3).

"With the ongoing opioid epidemic, pediatricians and child psychiatrists are likely to be more attuned to opioid misuse in their patients," the authors write. "If youth are screening positive for opioid misuse, pediatricians, nurses, social workers, child psychiatrists, and other providers assessing adolescents may have a new, broad range of other risky behaviors for which to screen regardless of the direction of the association."

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