The mental health consequences of nonmedical prescription drug use among adolescents
Nonmedical prescription drug use is estimated to be the second most abused category of drugs after marijuana among adolescents. Prescription drugs can be highly addictive and prolonged use can produce neurological changes and physiological dependence and could result in adverse mental health outcomes. This topic is largely unexplored, as current knowledge of possible mechanisms of the linkage between adverse mental health consequences and prescription drug misuse is limited. Using data from the 2008 – 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, this study employs a propensity score matching methodology to ascertain whether nonmedical use of prescription drugs is linked to major depressive episode. The results indicate that adolescents who used prescription drugs non-medically are 33% to 35% more likely to experience major depressive episode compared to their non-abusing counterparts. This provides additional evidence about the potential public health consequences of misuse of prescription drugs on adverse mental health outcomes.