College students who abuse prescription drugs face much higher mental illness risks as well. Narcotic pain medications including Vicoden and Oxycontin pose the highest risks of mental illness when abused, and students who use these medications often suffer from depression and experience suicidal thoughts according to a new scientific study. The study will appear in Addictive Behaviors: An Internet Journal, the August edition. The study findings confirm that many college students may turn to prescription drugs, especially opiates and other narcotics, in an attempt to deal with mental distress.
The study was co-authored by Western Illinois University assistant professor of health sciences Amanda Divin. Divin clearly explained the study results and the impact the study has on prescription drug abuse and substance abuse treatment. Divin stated “Because prescription drugs are tested by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and prescribed by a doctor, most people perceive them as ‘safe’ and don’t see the harm in sharing with friends or family if they have a few extra pills left over. Unfortunately, all drugs potentially have dangerous side effects. As our study demonstrates, use of prescription drugs — particularly painkillers like Vicodin and OxyContin — is related to depressive symptoms and suicidal thoughts and behaviors in college students. This is why use of such drugs need to be monitored by a doctor and why mental health outreach on college campuses is particularly important. Considering how common prescription sharing is on college campuses and the prevalence of mental health issues during the college years, more investigation in this area is definitely warranted. Our study is just one of the many first steps in exploring the relationship between nonmedical prescription drug use and mental health.”