Initiation into prescription drug misuse: differences between lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) and heterosexual high-risk young adults in Los Angeles and New York

Aleksandar Kecojevic, Carolyn F Wong, Sheree M Schrager, Karol Silva, Jennifer Jackson Bloom, Ellen Iverson, Stephen E Lankenau
Addictive Behaviors 2012, 37 (11): 1289-93

OBJECTIVE: Prescription drug misuse is an important public health problem in the U.S., particularly among adolescents and young adults. Few studies have examined factors contributing to initiation into prescription drug misuse, including sexual orientation and childhood abuse and neglect. The purpose of the present study is to investigate the relationship between initiation into the misuse of prescription drugs (opioids, tranquilizers, and stimulants), sexual identity, and individual and family determinants.

METHOD: Results are based upon data from a cross-sectional survey of 596 youth (polydrug users, homeless youth, and injection drug users) aged 16 to 25 who reported current prescription drug misuse. Participants were recruited in Los Angeles and New York City between 2009 and 2011. We compared initiation behaviors between sexual minority and heterosexual youth and examined factors modifying the relationship between sexual identity and earlier initiation into prescription drug misuse.

RESULTS: Sexual minority youth were more likely to report histories of initiation into misuse of prescription opioids and tranquilizers. Further, they were more likely to report various types of childhood abuse than heterosexual youth. However, multivariate analyses indicated that age of first prescribed drug was the most significant factor associated with initiation into misuse of all three categories of prescription drugs.

CONCLUSIONS: The correlates of initiation into prescription drug misuse are multidimensional and offer opportunities for further research. Identifying additional factors contributing to initiation into prescription drug misuse is essential towards developing interventions that may reduce future drug use among young adults.

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