Non-medical prescription opioid use and violent behaviour among adolescents
AbstractA pharmacological explanation for the observed positive association between opioid abuse and violence does not appear to exist. Several explanations have therefore been posited. This study attempted to shed additional light on the latent factors linking opioid abuse and adolescent violence. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first investigation to examine this relationship while distinguishing between adolescents who misused their own versus a diverted prescription. A secondary objective was to compare the estimated effects of opioid abuse to those of other substances. Method: The 2008 Washington State Healthy Youth Survey data were analysed. A full information maximum likelihood multiple regression was used to account for missing data. Results: Diverted- and own-prescription opioid abuse among adolescents were evidenced to be relatively strong predictors of violent thoughts and subsequent violent behaviour. Conclusions: These findings, in conjunction with our unique operationalisation of violence, help us draw inferences about the true source of the relationship between opioid abuse and violence. The results also indicate that opioid abuse is a potentially modifiable risk factor for violence. The fact that this negative outcome was observed for youths abusing their own prescription is further cause for concern given the recent surge in opioid prescriptions.
Journal of Child and Adolescent Mental Health 2014, 26(1): 35–47