From the Journals

Teens likely to mimic parents’ opioid use



The correlation between parental nonmedical prescription opioid use and offspring use should be considered in targeted efforts to reduce adolescent use, reported Pamela C. Griesler, PhD, of Columbia University, New York, and her associates.

Bottles of opioids/pills BackyardProduction/Thinkstock

Given the significant link between parental and adolescent smoking and adolescent nonmedical prescription opioid (NMPO) use, smoking also should be included in targeted interventions, they wrote in Pediatrics.

Dr. Griesler and her colleagues noted that there actually are three classes of factors influencing the association between parent and adolescent NMPO use: phenotypic heritability, parental role modeling, and parental socialization and other environmental influences.

In the first known study to explore the relationship of parent-adolescent NMPO use within a nationally representative sampling of parent-child dyads taken from the National Surveys on Drug Use and Health, Dr. Griesler and her colleagues examined the intergenerational association of lifetime NMPO use among 35,000 parent-adolescent dyads (21,200 mothers, 13,800 fathers). Of the 35,000 children aged 12-17 years included in the sample, 90% were biological, 8% were stepchildren, and 2% were adopted.

Given the absence of previous studies exploring the relationship between parent-adolescent NMPO use, Dr. Griesler and her associates used established findings for smoking and substance use to hypothesize that there would be stronger associations for mothers than fathers, daughters than sons, and for whites than African Americans.

The investigators posed three questions that formed the basis of their research: 1) What is the association between lifetime parental and child NMPO use? 2) What is the unique association between parental and child NMPO use, controlling for other factors? 3) Do parental/adolescent NMPO use associations differ by parent/child gender and race and/or ethnicity?

About 14% of parents reported ever using an NMPO; fathers (14%) had slightly higher rates of usage than mothers (13%), and white parents had higher rates of use (16%) than African American (10%) or Hispanic (9%) parents. Among adolescents, 9% reported ever having used an NMPO; this included similar rates for boys (9%) and girls (9%), as well as whites (9%), Hispanics (9%), and African Americans (8%). Use increased with age over time, from 4% among 12-year-olds to 15% among 17-year-olds.

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