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Opioid Misuse Among College Population

Knowing common risk factors and behaviors could benefit universities.

A PPM Brief

A recent study1 sought to characterize college-aged individuals who misuse prescription opioids and the differences between current, past, and non-misusers. According to researchers at the University of Chicago and the University of Minnesota, not much is known regarding the clinical and cognitive characteristics of prescription opioid misusers, particularly when it comes to this specific population.

Administered to 9,449 university students at a large, public Midwestern university, a 156-item survey obtained demographic information, self-reported grade point average, sexual behavior, mental health characteristics, substance use, and impulsivity (ie, gambling). A total of 3,522 students completed the survey and were included in the analysis.

Opioid Misuse Among College PopulationCertain factors identify opioid misusers among college students. (Source: 123RF)

Of the group, 2.2% reported misusing prescription opioids in the prior 12 months and 5.3% reported misusing prescription opioids previously, but not in the past year. The study found that prescription opioid misusers tend to be more likely to live off-campus, have a lower GPA, exhibit increased impulsivity, exhibit an early age of sexual activity, and were less likely to use protection during sexual activity.

These newly identified risk factors for prescription opioids misusers may be used to develop and refine screening tools for university health centers and clinicians who treat college-aged students, while also establishing a number of concurring behaviors that can be addressed when determining misusers.

Last updated on: November 20, 2018
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