Several factors in both parents and adolescents were found to be associated with the use of nonmedical prescription opioids (NMPO) in adolescents,  according to a study published in Pediatrics.

Data from a nationally representative sample of 35,000 parent-child dyads from the 2004 to 2012 National Surveys on Drug Use and Health were examined. Adolescents included in the sample were between the age of 12 and 17. Researchers evaluated the association between self-reported parental and adolescent lifetime use of NMPO. Analyses were adjusted for parental and adolescent use of other drugs, psychosocial risk factors in parents and adolescents, drug use attitudes, and sociodemographic factors.

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Use of NMPO by parents was associated with adolescent NMPO use (adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 1.30; 95% CI, 1.09-1.56). There was a greater association between parental NMPO use and NMPO use in adolescents for mothers vs fathers (aOR, 1.62; 95% CI, 1.28-2.056 vs aOR, 0.98; 95% CI, 0.74-1.24, respectively). Specific parental components associated with adolescent NMPO use included lifetime smoking (aOR, 1.24; 95% CI, 1.02-1.51), low monitoring (aOR, 1.21; 95% CI, 1.12-1.31), and parent-adolescent conflict (aOR, 1.19; 95% CI, 1.10-1.29]).

Factors in adolescents associated with their NMPO use included smoking (aOR, 1.37; 95% CI, 1.14-1.65), marijuana use (aOR, 1.25; 95% CI, 1.02-1.53), depression (aOR, 1.62; 95% CI, 1.37-1.93), delinquency (aOR, 1.50; 95% CI, 1.42-1.59), and perceived schoolmates’ drug use (aOR, 1.71; 95% CI, 1.44-2.04). Adolescents with lower rates of NMPO use were more likely to be religious (aOR, 0.92; 95% CI, 0.86-0.99) and view drug use as risky (aOR, 0.77; 95% CI, 0.72-0.82).

Study limitations include its cross-sectional nature and the assessment of only 1 parent and 1 child per household.

“Parent-based interventions targeted at NMPO use among youth should not only address parental NMPO use but should also promote positive parenting practices, such as monitoring and reduced conflict,” concluded the researchers.


Griesler PC, Hu MC, Wall MM, Kandel DB. Nonmedical prescription opioid use by parents and adolescents in the US. Pediatrics. 2019;143(3).

This article originally appeared on Clinical Pain Advisor