According to a study published in the journal Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, people without jobs are more likely to abuse prescription opioids and stimulants.
Opioids such as oxycodone are commonly used to treat both acute and chronic pain. Stimulant drugs such as methylphenidate can treat attention-deficit hyperactivity (ADHD). Some recreational users also take stimulants as performance-enhancing drugs.
Prescription opioid abuse has reached epidemic levels. In 2014, deaths due to prescription opioids and illicit opioids such as heroin climbed to an all-time high of 47,055.
Unemployment and Opioid Addiction
The study, led by epidemiologist Silvia Martins, MD, PhD, of Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, gathered data on 58,486 adults age 25 and older. The data, which came from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, covered 2011-2013. Researchers used four regression models to evaluate the link between employment status and prescription drug abuse.
Nonmedical use of opioids (3.5%) was more common than nonmedical use of stimulants (0.72%).
Unemployment as a Health Risk Factor
The study says medical providers should inquire about employment status, because unemployment is correlated with physical and mental health issues. This link is especially strong for young adults ages 26-34, who are more likely to use opioids and stimulants for nonmedical reasons.
People without full-time jobs may also experience more adverse consequences associated with prescription drug abuse. Unemployment often reduces community and social ties, which can lessen the harms of substance abuse.
- Perlmutter, A. S., Conner, S. C., Savone, M., Kim, J. H., Segura, L. E., & Martins, S. S. (2016). Is employment status in adults over 25 years old associated with non-medical prescription opioid and stimulant use? Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology. doi:10.1007/s00127-016-1312-6
- Risk for misuse of opioids and stimulants: What does employment status have to do with it? (2016, December 6). Retrieved from https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-12/cums-rfm120616.php
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