More mental health woes in college kids who abuse prescription drugs

June 19, 2012
More mental health woes in college kids who abuse prescription drugs
Large study found association was strongest with painkillers like OxyContin, Vicodin.

(HealthDay) -- Prescription drug abuse among American college students is linked to depression and suicidal thoughts, a new study finds.

Researchers analyzed data from more than 26,000 college students at 40 campuses who took part in the 2008 American College Health Association National College Assessment survey.

As part of the survey, the students were asked about their nonmedical use of prescription drugs such as painkillers, stimulants, sedatives and antidepressants, and about their mental health symptoms over the past year.

About 13 percent of the college students reported nonmedical use of prescription drugs. Those who said they had felt hopeless, sad, depressed or had considered suicide were much more likely to abuse prescription drugs.

This association was especially strong among female students who reported painkiller use, the researchers found.

The study will be published in the August issue of Addictive Behaviors: An International Journal.

"Because prescription drugs are tested by the U.S. and prescribed by a doctor, most people perceive them as 'safe' and don't see the harm in sharing with friends or family if they have a few extra pills left over," study co-author Amanda Divin, an assistant professor of health sciences at Western Illinois University, said in a university news release.

"Unfortunately, all drugs potentially have dangerous side effects. As our study demonstrates, use of prescription drugs -- particularly painkillers like Vicodin and OxyContin -- is related to and and behaviors in college students. This is why use of such drugs need to be monitored by a doctor and why mental health outreach on college campuses is particularly important," Divin explained.

The findings suggest that college students are abusing prescription drugs to ease .

"Considering how common prescription sharing is on college campuses and the prevalence of mental health issues during the college years, more investigation in this area is definitely warranted," Divin said. "Our study is just one of the many first steps in exploring the relationship between nonmedical prescription drug use and mental health."

Explore further: Increase in Internet access parallels growth in prescription drug abuse

More information: The U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse has more about prescription drug abuse.

Related Stories

Increase in Internet access parallels growth in prescription drug abuse

May 12, 2011
Increasing access to rogue online pharmacies – those which dispense medications without a doctor's prescription – may be an important factor behind the rapid increase in the abuse of prescription drugs. In a report ...

College men find steroids for better game less ethical than stimulants for better grades, study says

May 8, 2012
In the eyes of young college men, it's more unethical to use steroids to get an edge in sports than it is to use prescription stimulants to enhance one's grades, according to new research published by the American Psychological ...

Few depressed college students receive adequate care

February 17, 2012
Less than one in four college students with symptoms of serious depression receives adequate treatment. Current health care services on campus might not be sufficient for delivering good quality mental health care, according ...

Many who first misuse prescription pills get them from friends, family: report

April 25, 2012
(HealthDay) -- A new U.S. government analysis shows that more than 70 percent of people who first misuse prescription medications get those pills from their friends or relatives.

Recommended for you

Concern with potential rise in super-potent cannabis concentrates

July 21, 2017
University of Queensland researchers are concerned the recent legalisation of medicinal cannabis in Australia may give rise to super-potent cannabis concentrates with associated harmful effects.

Findings link aldosterone with alcohol use disorder

July 18, 2017
A new study led by scientists at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), part of the National Institutes of Health, demonstrates that aldosterone, a hormone produced in the adrenal glands, may contribute ...

Depression among young teens linked to cannabis use at 18

July 17, 2017
A study looking at the cumulative effects of depression in youth, found that young people with chronic or severe forms of depression were at elevated risk for developing a problem with cannabis in later adolescence.

Why does prenatal alcohol exposure increase the likelihood of addiction?

July 7, 2017
One of the many negative consequences when fetuses are exposed to alcohol in the womb is an increased risk for drug addiction later in life. Neuroscientists in the University at Buffalo Research Institute on Addictions are ...

Researchers say U.S. policies on drugs and addiction could use a dose of neuroscience

June 23, 2017
Tens of thousands of Americans die from drug overdoses every year – around 50,000 in 2015 – and the number has been steadily climbing for at least the last decade and a half, according to the National Institute on Drug ...

Study provides further support for genetic factors underlying addictions

June 13, 2017
Impairment of a particular gene raises increases susceptibility to opioid addiction liability as well as vulnerability to binge eating according to a new study.

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

bugmenot23
1 / 5 (1) Jun 19, 2012
"Those who said they had felt hopeless, sad, depressed or had considered suicide were much more likely to abuse prescription drugs" - wow, who would've thunk. Depressed people self-medicating.

We need tighter controls and death penalty for self-medication, for sure. And for depression, too, maybe.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.