Rural teens more likely to abuse prescription drugs than their urban, suburban counterparts

December 28, 2010

Adolescents living in rural areas are significantly more likely to abuse prescription drugs than their counterparts in urban areas, according to a study published online November 1 in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, HealthDay News reported.

Adolescents living in rural areas are significantly more likely to abuse prescription drugs than their counterparts in urban areas, according to a study published online in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, HealthDay News reported.

Jennifer R. Havens, PhD, of the University of Kentucky College of Medicine, and colleagues analyzed data on 17,872 adolescents from the 2008 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Researchers compared the prevalence of nonmedical prescription drug use, including pain relievers, sedatives, stimulants, and tranquilizers, among adolescents (aged 12 to 17) living in urban, suburban, and rural settings.

Researchers found that adolescents living in rural areas were 26% more likely than those in urban areas to have used prescription drugs nonmedically. In comparison, suburban adolescents were 4% more likely to have used prescription drugs nonmedically than those in urban areas.

However, it was also found that among rural adolescents, school enrollment and living in a 2-parent household were factors that protected them against nonmedical use of prescription drugs.