Opioid Resource Center

Opioid Resource Center

February 27, 2019
2 min read

Teens’ recreational opioid use linked to parents’ use

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Adolescents who used opioid prescriptions for nonmedical reasons were more likely to have a parent who also reported nonmedical prescription opioid use, especially if the parent was their mother, according to research published in Pediatrics.

Pamela C. Griesler, PhD, assistant professor of clinical psychology at Columbia University, and colleagues wrote that previous research has linked parental smoking as well as alcohol and marijuana use to an increased risk for use in their offspring. However, the relationship between parental and offspring nonmedical prescription opioid use has only been inferred because one-third of youth report that they received opioids from a family member.

The researchers assessed data collected between 2004 and 2012 on 35,000 parent and child dyads. Children included in the study were aged 12 to 17 years.

Parents’ nonmedical prescription opioid use was associated with their offspring’s nonmedical use of the drug, even after controlling for parental and adolescent use of other drugs, attitudes about drug use, psychosocial risk factors and sociodemographic factors (adjusted OR = 1.3; 95% CI, 1.09-1.56). Teenagers were more likely to report nonmedical prescription opioid use when their mothers also used the drug compared with their father’s use (mother: aOR = 1.62; 95% CI, 1.28-2.056; father: aOR = 0.98; 95% CI, 0.74-1.24). The adolescent’s sex or race did not change this association.

When Griesler and colleagues examined the effect of individual risk factors, they found unique associations between adolescent nonmedical prescription opioid use and parental lifetime smoking, a lack of parental monitoring and conflict between parents and the teenager (aOR = 1.19-1.24). Furthermore, teenagers’ smoking status, marijuana use, depression, delinquency and how they perceived their schoolmates’ drug use were linked to nonmedical prescription opioid use (aOR = 1.25-1.71).

Adolescents were less likely to report nonmedical prescription opioid use when they believed that drug use could be harmful and had strong religious beliefs (aOR = 0.77-0.93).

“Similar to other types of parental substance use, parental nonmedical prescription opioid use is associated with offspring use and should be considered in efforts to reduce adolescent nonmedical prescription opioid use,” Griesler and colleagues wrote. “Smoking should also be the target of interventions; there are significant links between parental and adolescent smoking and [opioid] use. Parent-based interventions targeted at nonmedical prescription opioid use among youth should not only address parental use but should also promote positive parenting practices, such as monitoring and reduced conflict.” – by Katherine Bortz

Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.