by Pooja Shete on  February 4, 2021 at 5:02 PM Drug News
Psychoactive Drugs Are Misused Most In Young People
An analysis of national survey responses suggests that nearly a third of US teens and young adults prescribed a psychoactive drug misuse that drug. The likelihood of misusing these drugs increases with age. The findings indicate that stimulants and tranquillizers were more likely to be misused than opioids.

The study is published in the online journal Family Medicine & Community Health.

In the US, drug overdose is a leading cause of unintentional death and most of the cases involve opioid painkillers, but not all.


Data available on the misuse of other prescription psychoactive drugs are few and each year more than 1 in 3 teens and young adults in the US are prescribed one of these drugs. The researchers used the responses of 110,556 US 12-25 year olds who took part in the 2015-2018 National Survey of Drug Use and Health Sampling.

Overall in the past year, 35 percent had taken a prescribed psychoactive drug out of which 31 percent had misused that drug. Even though opioids were the most commonly prescribed drug, misuse of stimulants and tranquillizers was higher. Nearly 45 percent of users misused stimulants and tranquillizers.

One in 10 respondents said they took at least two prescribed psychoactive drugs. 58 percent patients (6 in 10) said that they misused one of these agents. 87 percent confessed to misusing other substances such as cigarettes, cigars, marijuana, alcohol, cocaine, heroin, inhalants, or hallucinogens.

With increasing age, use and misuse of a prescribed psychoactive drug increases. Over the past year one in four teens (12-17 year olds) reported taking any psychoactive prescribed drug. Around 6 percent reported taking at least two such drugs, this increased to 41 percent and 13.5 percent, respectively, among 18-25 year olds.

In the teen users of psychoactive prescription drugs, opioids were the most frequently used at 19 percent, followed by stimulants 7 percent, tranquillizers 4 percent, and sedatives 2 percent. Tranquillizers were most often misused (40 percent), followed by stimulants (24 percent), opioids (nearly 18 percent), and sedatives (14 percent).

Among 18-25 year-olds, misuse was highest for tranquillizers (45 percent) followed by stimulants (51 percent), opioids (23 percent), and sedatives (19 percent).

They write, "It is important to monitor the diversity of medication misuse behaviours among youth and young adults, given their potential for abuse liability. Modifiable risk factors for prescription substance misuse, such as tobacco and other non-prescription substance use, underscore the need for comprehensive approaches towards health promotion among youth and young adults. Mental health and medical providers would benefit from using a team approach and having open communication with other healthcare providers to ensure evidence-based guidelines are used when assessing for, and treating, mental health and substance use difficulties."

11.5 percent of the 18-25 year olds reported serious psychological distress, which was associated with misuse of every psychoactive prescription drug assessed.

Source: Medindia

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