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Prescription Drug Misuse Linked to Illicit Drug Use

Prescription Drug Misuse Linked to Illicit Drug UseA new study profiles drug use among young adults in the two largest cities in America, finding that using prescription drugs and illicit drugs at the same time was common.

Experts say that this is the first study to compare patterns of prescription and illicit drug misuse among high-risk young adults who are already misusing prescription drugs.

Stephen Lankenau, Ph.D., associate professor at Drexel and principal investigator, and colleagues suggest that drug treatment providers should be aware of this pattern of drug use to treat their clients more effectively.

Lankenau and colleagues interviewed 596 young adults between the ages of 16 and 25 who had misused prescription drugs within the previous 90 days.

The study included interviews with three high-risk groups of young adults: injection drug users (IDUs), homeless persons and polydrug users (users who combine drugs during a drug-using event).

Researchers discovered drug users tended to use an illicit drug that provided a similar effect as the prescription drug they were already misusing.

The two cities also provided contrasting drug markets, which influenced the types of drugs misused. New York participants more frequently misused oxycodone, heroin and cocaine, while Los Angeles participants more frequently misused codeine, marijuana and methamphetamine.

The research findings confirm earlier studies by Lankenau and colleagues suggesting that the pathway to drug misuse begins with misuse of prescription opioids followed by the use of injected drugs.

The report was recently published in the Journal of Public Health Research.

Source: Drexel University

Young man using drugs photo by shutterstock.

Prescription Drug Misuse Linked to Illicit Drug Use

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). Prescription Drug Misuse Linked to Illicit Drug Use. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 23, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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