Misuse of opioid medications (ie, using opioids differently than how a doctor prescribed the medication) is common among US adolescents and associated with preventable health consequences (eg, severe respiratory depression, seizures, heart failure, and death).1 New guidelines and recommendations have made providers more attuned to overprescribing and more vigilant about screening for opioid misuse.2 We hypothesized that youth who misused prescription opioids were more likely to report engaging in a broad range of other risky behaviors.METHODS:
We used the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey (n = 14 765), a cross-sectional, nationally representative survey of high school students. Students were sampled by using a 3-stage random cluster design. We conducted weighted logistic regressions to determine the strength of the association between our independent variable, ever misusing prescription opioids, and 22 dependent variables in the following categories: risky driving behaviors (4 variables), violent behaviors (3 variables), risky sexual behaviors (4 variables), substance use (10 variables), and suicide attempt (1 variable).RESULTS:
In 2017, 14% of US adolescents reported ever misusing opioids. Those who misused prescription opioids were significantly more likely to have engaged in all 22 risky behaviors (adjusted odds ratios ranged from 2.0 to 22.3; P < .0001 for all tests) compared with other adolescents.CONCLUSIONS:
Adolescents reporting ever misusing prescription opioids were more likely to have engaged in a broad range of risky behaviors. Health care providers screening for prescription opioid misuse may be ideally positioned to identify these high-risk youth and initiate early interventions.