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2018 Annual Spring Conference

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FP013 Adolescent Views on Prescription and Nonprescription Opioid Use: Findings from a Longitudinal Mixed Methods Study

Melissa DeJonckheere, PhD; Christina Czuhajewski; Lauren Nichols, MPH; Tammy Chang, MD, MPH, MS

05/6/18 1:15 PM - 2:15 PM Exhibit Hall B South, Exhibition Level

Purpose: Opioid use and abuse is a significant public health problem that is not isolated to adults. Studies on adults indicate that the majority of substance users initiate in late adolescence. The goal of this study is to explore adolescent perspectives of prescription drug use and misuse in order to inform future intervention and policy efforts. Method: Using an ongoing longitudinal mixed methods design, we collected survey data from youth, ages 14-24 (N=1057). Weekly surveys included both quantitative (demographics) and qualitative (open-ended probes) data. We focus on a subset of the study designed to understand youth perspectives on the prescription pain medication and opioid use. This series included four open-ended probes about prescription pain medication to assess: 1) prior prescription pain medication use; 2) safety of using medication prescribed to the participant; 3) safety of using medication not prescribed to the participant; 4) access to prescription pain medications from peers or non-providers; and 5) perspective on the word "opioids." We analyzed quantitative data using descriptive statistics and qualitative data using natural language processing (NLP) and traditional qualitative methods. Mixed methods integration occurred during the analysis by merging the demographic data with the thematic findings. Results: Qualitative analysis revealed that the majority of adolescents reported that use of prescription pain medication that is not prescribed to the individual is unsafe. Others described that safety depends on the strength of the medication and how often it is being used. Participants described easy access to prescription drugs, including from peers, family members, or others who have a prescription. When asked to state what they think of when hearing the word opioid, the majority described an "opioid epidemic," "crisis," and "overdoses," while others associated opioids with heroin use and illegal drugs. Conclusions: Our findings indicate that the majority of participants view misuse of prescription drugs as a risky health behavior. Because prescription drugs were readily available to adolescents in this sample, more research is needed to determine whether risk perception influences behavior, particularly in the context of opioids. Intervention and prevention efforts with youth should address misconceptions about prescription drug misuse.


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