Adolescents who were prescribed medications and acknowledged having fooled around with them were more likely to abuse other drugs and to have sold, traded or given away their meds to friends, says a new study.
A survey of 2,744 Detroit-area high school students found that, among those who had been prescribed a sleeping, pain, anti-anxiety or stimulant medication in the past year, 22% acknowledged having deliberately taken more of that medicine than he or she was prescribed in an effort to get high. Researchers from the University of Michigan then asked about diversion of drugs and screened kids for drug abuse or dependence. They found that, compared with kids who took their medication as prescribed, the substantial minority who had abused their prescription drugs were far more likely to abuse other drugs as well.
They were also more likely to engage in binge drinking, cigarette and marijuana use.
The findings, said the authors, "suggest that health professionals should conduct routine screening for substance abuse disorders, especially among adolescents who have a history of medically misusing" their prescription medications. Physicians could choose to prescribe less addictive medications to such kids, and refer them for further assessment. And parents could monitor such kids' access to prescription medications to ensure they are not being misused or diverted to friends.