Associations between adverse childhood experiences, student-teacher relationships, and non-medical use of prescription medications among adolescents

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Objective Few studies have investigated associations between adverse childhood experiences (ACE) and nonmedical use of prescription medication (NMUPM) in population-based samples of adolescents, and even fewer have examined whether promotive factors might buffer these effects. The present study assesses the direct effects of ACE and positive student-teacher relationships on NUMPD and whether positive student-teacher relationships moderate this association. Design Data were from the 2013 Minnesota Student Survey (MSS), an in-school survey administered every three years to students throughout Minnesota. The analytic sample (n = 104,332) was comprised of 8th, 9th, and 11th graders. Results Approximately 3% of students acknowledged past year NMUPM, the majority of whom reported at least one ACE. The most frequently used prescription drug was Ritalin/ADHD medications (1.71%) followed by opiate-based painkillers (1.67%), tranquilizers (0.92%), and stimulants (0.75%). Students who reported any use tended to use more than one medication. For every additional ACE, there was a 56%, 51%, 47%, and 52% increase in the odds of past year stimulant use, ADHD medication, pain reliever, and tranquilizer use, respectively. The estimated rate of the number of prescription drugs used increased by 62% for every additional ACE. Positive student- teacher relationships buffered the association between ACE and NMUPD, especially at higher levels of ACEs. Conclusion Our findings have important implications for prevention work. Training educators to recognize trauma symptomology and cultivating strong student-teacher relationships are important considerations for future school-based substance use prevention initiatives.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)30-34
Number of pages5
JournalAddictive Behaviors
StatePublished - May 1 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was partially supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under National Research Service Award in Primary Medical Care grant number T32HP22239, Bureau of Health Workforce. HHS had no role in the study design, collection, analysis or interpretation of data, writing the manuscript, or the decision to submit the manuscript for publication.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017

Copyright 2017 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


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