New U-M School of Nursing study shows prescription drug misuse is related to later substance use disorders

Prescription drug illustration


A new University of Michigan study shows that the frequency and age at which older teens and young adults misuse prescription drugs are two predictors of substance use disorders later in life, especially alcohol misuse.

The study examined annual misuse patterns for prescription opioids, stimulants and sedatives/tranquilizers in the same individuals from age 18 to 35 to learn which prescription drug use trajectories predicted later symptoms of substance use disorders.

“We found that any misuse predicted substance-related problems, but when annual misuse peaked at 10 or more occasions the odds of developing serious substance-related problems skyrocketed,” said Sean Esteban McCabe, first author of the study, which appears in The Lancet Psychiatry.

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