Friday, September 18, 2015

Rural youth 35% more likely to abuse prescription painkillers than urban counterparts, study says

Rural youth ages 12 to 17 "are 35 percent more likely to have abused prescription painkillers in the past year than adolescents living in large cities," says a report by Penn State University researchers published in the Journal of Rural Health, Matt Swayne reports for Penn State News. "Adolescents who live in small cities have a 21 percent greater likelihood of abusing prescription painkillers than their large urban counterparts."

Researchers, who said females are more likely to abuse painkillers than boys, found that the most popular drugs were OxyContin, oxycodone, Percocet and other morphine-based drugs, Swayne writes. Overall, more than 1.3 million adolescents abused prescription painkillers in the past year, researchers said. The survey was compiled from National Survey on Drug Use and Health data from 2011 to 2012 that consisted of 32,036 adolescents.

Researchers said rural youth are more at risk because of limited medical care opportunities and treatment facilities and they are "less likely to understand the risks of painkiller abuse," Swayne writes. They are also more likely to go to an emergency room than a primary medical practitioner. Researchers said drug use among rural youth could be higher, but "rural youths have less access to illicit drugs, receive more positive forms of peer pressure and report stronger religious beliefs." (Read more)

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