Variations in Teen Prescription Drug Abuse

prescription drug abuseResearchers believe that parental beliefs regarding drug use may help to explain the racial/ethnic variations in prescription drug abuse among teens.[1]

“Our findings add support to growing evidence that parents continue to remain a vital part of adolescents’ decision-making, particularly regarding potentially risky behaviors, ” write Brigid M. Conn, MA, and Amy K. Marks, PhD, of Suffolk University, Boston.1

Abuse and misuse of prescription drugs is a fast-growing epidemic in the United States.1 The researchers analyzed data on prescription drug misuse from a national survey of more than 18,000 adolescents.1 As seen in multiple previous studies, Caucasian teens had the highest rates of prescription drug misuse.1 For example, 3.4 percent of Caucasian teens misused tranquilizers, compared to 2.9 percent of Hispanic and 0.9 percent of African-American teens.1 Rates were also higher in older teens and females.1 However, in contrast to previous studies, teens from higher-income families actually had lower rates of prescription drug misuse.1

The teens had also been asked about both their parents’ and their peers’ attitudes toward specific types of substance use.1 Parental disproval was associated with lower rates of prescription drug misuse; however, this did vary by race/ethnicity.1 Those whose parents strongly disapproved of all types of substance abuse were at a lower risk than teens in the two minority groups.1 For example, strong disapproval of alcohol use was linked to lower rates of prescription drug misuse in African-American teens, while the strong disproval of marijuana was linked to lower rates of prescription drug misuse in Hispanic teens.1

“No matter what the ethnic/racial background of the family, parents’ disapproving attitudes about misusing substances in general—whether alcohol, marijuana, or tobacco—play a strong role in protecting their adolescents from misusing prescription medicine,” said Marks.1

Caucasian teens who had close friends that disapproved of substance use had lower rates of prescription drug misuse; however, the same was not true for African-American and Hispanic teens.1 Marks believes that parents can help steer their children towards friends with shared substance abuse disapproval.1

Researchers believe that this study provides initial evidence that disapproval by socialization agents, such as parents, has a significant effect on prescription drug misuse.1 However, while the findings may provide clues as to how the racial/ethnic variations arise, this has led researchers to focus on values other than “culture-specific factors” that may explain the behaviors—instead of generalizing across groups.1

“We’re already working on new studies to understand some of the unique socializing factors or agents which seem to be protective for Hispanic and African-American adolescents, beyond parental disapproval,” said Marks. “As we learn more about what kinds of socializing messages matter most to which cultural groups, clinicians, teachers, social workers, and parents alike can help keep steering their adolescents in meaningful ways to make healthy behavioral choices when it comes to prescription drugs.”1

[1] Nauert, R. (2014). Parents Play Role in Teens’ Prescription Drug Abuse. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 14, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/news/2014/05/13/parents-play-role-in-teens-prescription-drug-abuse/69766.html

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

We are the only facility in Florida owned and operated by an addiction psychiatrist involved in all treatment decisions. Learn more
Hello. Add your message here.