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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Prescription Drug Abuse Coupled With Depression & Suicide More Likely Among Young Women

Addiction treatment programs for men and women are usually managed differently for each gender. Treatment professionals understand that female addicts frequently have unique rehabilitation needs and circumstances, involving safety, security, pregnancy, abuse, and children for example.

Therefore, researchers continue to study use and abuse issues as they relate to gender specific use habits and  the general mental health of the users. Of particular interest to researchers is the college age population. How do behaviors differ between men and women? We have written about college students to provide important information to parents and college age men and women.  So we read with interest about a new study that will be published in the August 2012 issue of "Addictive Behaviors: An International Journal."

The research article is titled: "The Association Between Non-medical prescription Drug Use, Depressive Symptoms, and Suicidality Among College Students."  The study was conducted by researchers from West Virginia University School of Public Health and Western Illinois University using data from the fall 2008 American College Health Association National College Health Assessment which was collected from 26,600+ students attending 40 U.S. college campuses. 

Here are some of their conclusions:
  • College students typically obtain prescription drugs through family and friends
  • College students in particular and people in general see no harm in sharing prescriptions (since they are legal drugs)
  • The use of prescription drugs like OxyContin is related to suicidal thoughts and behaviors
  • About 13% of students in the study reported non-medical prescription drug use and reported feeling hopeless, sad or depressed or considered suicide.
  • By gender, depressive symptoms and suicidal tendencies were significantly associated with greater odds of non-medical prescription drug abuse, especially among females who abuse painkillers
As one of the researchers, West Virginia University's associate professor Keith Zullig cautions:
"We have to encourage more mental health outreach, particularly on college campuses where prescription drug sharing is common and mental health issues are known to manifest and occur."
If you have a college student  returning home for the summer, spend time assessing their behavior, their patterns. Watch for mood swings, sadness, hopelessness, particularly in young women. They may be asking for help, or worse, they may not know how to ask for help. 

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