Adolescents' Access to Prescription Drugs for Non-medical Use

Maggie Marie Prunty


Non-medical prescription drug use (NMPDU) among adolescents has recently been identified as a growing concern within Rice County, MN4. Research has indicated that prescription drug abuse among adolescents may act as a gateway to using more harmful drugs in the future1. In recent years, Rice County, MN has seen an increased usage of heroin and cocaine which may be connected to prescription drug misuse4. Due to the neurodevelopmental stage of adolescents abusing these drugs, they are more prone to addiction2. The combination of an underdeveloped adolescent brain and prescription medication abuse could lead to a lifelong struggle with drugs with altered chemical pathways and brain cell maturation. Prescription drug abuse is also associated with increased hospital visits and medical emergencies3, which negatively impacts health and may become a financial burden to the adolescent and community. This descriptive study focused on learning how adolescents access prescription drugs for non-medical use and where the supply originated. Anonymous surveys were distributed to all consenting 18+ years old students at an area high school. Data showed that a majority of the surveyed student population was aware of prescription drug misuse among their peers.  While several access routes were identified, “friends” and “seller” were the most commonly indicated routes. Adolescents’ awareness of NMPDU and the identified common access routes will guide prevention efforts, policy making, and intervention strategies about prescription drug abuse for health care providers, schools, community leaders, and law enforcement4. These policies will benefit current and future adolescents in Rice County, MN.


Key Words: Adolescents, Prescription Drugs, Access


Adolescents; Prescription Drugs; Access

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