Study Shows Link Between Parent and Adolescent Nonmedical Prescription Opioid Use

(U.S.) – Recent data suggest a link between parents using nonmedical prescription opioids and their children.

A large, national study in the March 2019 Pediatrics suggests that adolescents are significantly more likely to have used nonmedical prescription opioids when a parent has also misused the drugs.

The study, “Nonmedical Prescription Opioid Use by Parents and Adolescents in the U.S.,” published online Feb. 25, examined data from the 2004-2012 National Surveys on Drug Use and Health. It included responses from 35,000 parent-child pairs living in the same household, including an adolescent between ages 12 and 17 years.

Participants were asked whether they’d ever taken any of 21 opioid pain relievers not prescribed for them, or whether they’d ever taken the medication “only for the experience or feeling it caused.” Nearly 14 percent of adolescents had used a nonmedical prescription opioid if a parent had also done so, compared with roughly 8 percent when a parent had not used one. Associations between parent and adolescent nonmedical prescription opioid use did not differ by adolescent gender or race/ethnicity.

However, mothers’ use had a stronger association than fathers’ use. Other factors linked with increased nonmedical prescription opioid use among adolescents included parental smoking, parent-child conflict, and low parental monitoring of teens’ peer relationships, media use and homework completion.

Authors of the study said parent-based interventions targeted to adolescent nonmedical prescription opioid use should address parents’ misuse of the drugs as well as smoking, and promote positive parenting practices.

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