There has been an increase in the abuse of prescription opioids, especially in younger individuals. The current study explores the association between alcohol, cigarette, and/or marijuana use during adolescence and subsequent abuse of prescription opioids during young adulthood.
We used demographic/clinical data from community-dwelling individuals in the 2006–2008 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. We used logistic regression analyses, adjusted for these characteristics, to test whether having previous alcohol, cigarette, or marijuana use was associated with an increased likelihood of subsequently abusing prescription opioids.
Twelve percent of the survey population of 18–25 year olds (n = 6,496) reported current abuse of prescription opioids. For this population, prevalence of previous substance use was 57% for alcohol, 56% for cigarettes, and 34% for marijuana. We found previous alcohol use was associated with the subsequent abuse of prescription opioids in young men but not young women. Among both men and women, previous marijuana use was 2.5 times more likely than no previous marijuana to be associated with subsequent abuse of prescription opioids. We found that among young boys, all previous substance use (alcohol, cigarettes, and marijuana), but only previous marijuana use in young girls, was associated with an increased likelihood of subsequent abuse of prescription opioids during young adulthood.
Previous alcohol, cigarette, and marijuana use were each associated with current abuse of prescription opioids in 18–25-year-old men, but only marijuana use was associated with subsequent abuse of prescription opioids in young women. Prevention efforts targeting early substance abuse may help to curb the abuse of prescription opioids.
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