Non-Medical Prescription Opioid Use among High-School Adolescents in Atlantic Canada
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Non-Medical Prescription Opioid (NMPO) use is one of the most prevalent forms of substance use among Canadian adolescents. Despite the evidence of NMPO use as a major public health concern, we have major gaps in our understanding of the correlates that shape NMPO use patterns. Our study addresses the gaps by: 1- describing the sociodemographic, substance use, and psychosocial characteristics of Atlantic Canada high-school student NMPO users, and examining whether frequency of use is differentially shaped by these measures; 2- examining the substance use patterns by which NMPOs are used, and whether these patterns are associated with psychosocial outcomes, particularly mental health (depression, suicidality, and anxiety) and protective (school connectedness and parental monitoring) factors. We analyzed data derived from the 2012 cycle of the Student Drug Use Survey in the Atlantic Provinces using descriptive statistics and regression models. Our results indicate that frequent and infrequent NMPO users carry the same mental health burden, are similarly affected by protective factors, and are similarly likely to engage in other substance use. NMPO use is robustly associated with medical opioid use, with one-third of medical users engaging in misuse. Subgroups of NMPO users (based on patterns of additional substance use) share a similar burden of mental health problems; however, a strong negative association between greater parental monitoring and any additional substance use is evident.