Use of clinician-recommended prescription opioids before the end of high school is associated with later opioid misuse — particularly among those high-schoolers who seem least likely to misuse drugs — a Pediatrics study finds.
Researchers studied a nationally representative sample of 6200 youth who, in grade 12, completed questionnaires about drug use and then were followed up until age 23. Overall, legitimate prescription opioid use (i.e., provider-recommended use) by grade 12 was independently associated with a significant, 33% increase in risk for opioid misuse later. The association was particularly pronounced among participants without a history of drug misuse at baseline, as well as among those who strongly disapproved of marijuana use at baseline.
The researchers write: “For clinical practice, the results suggest an unrecognized risk of opioid prescribing. This risk should be incorporated into prescribing decisions and patient counseling.”
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