Predictors and Consequences of Prescription Drug Misuse During Middle School

Published in: Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 2015

Posted on RAND.org on October 20, 2015

by Joan S. Tucker, Brett Ewing, Jeremy N. V. Miles, Regina A. Shih, Eric R. Pedersen, Elizabeth J. D'Amico

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OBJECTIVES: Non-medical prescription drug use (NMPDU) is a growing public health problem among adolescents. This is the first study to examine the correlates of early NMPDU initiation during middle school, and how early initiation is associated with four domains of functioning in high school (mental health, social, academic, and delinquency). METHODS: Students initially in 6th-8th grades from 16 middle schools completed in-school surveys between 2008 and 2011 (Waves 1-5), and a web-based survey in 2013-2014 (Wave 6). We used discrete time survival analysis to assess predictors of initiation from Waves 1-5 based on students who provided NMPDU information at any of these waves (n = 12,904), and regression analysis to examine high school outcomes associated with initiation based on a sample that was followed into high school, Wave 6 (n = 2,539). RESULTS: Low resistance self-efficacy, family substance use, low parental respect, and offers of other substances from peers were consistently associated with NMPDU initiation throughout middle school. Further, perceiving that more of one's peers engaged in other substance use was associated with initiation at Wave 1 only. By high school, those students who initiated NMPDU during middle school reported lower social functioning, and more suspensions and fighting, compared to students who did not initiate NMPDU during middle school. CONCLUSION: NMPDU initiation during middle school is associated with poorer social functioning and greater delinquency in high school. It is important for middle school prevention programs to address NMPDU. Such programs should focus on both family and peer influences, as well as strengthening resistance self-efficacy.

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