Association between prescription opioid misuse and dimensions of suicidality among college students

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Psychiatry Research


Suicide rates among young adults have increased in recent years. Prescription opioid misuse is not only associated with depression onset but misuse has also been reported as means to manage existing depressive symptoms. College students are at increased risk for psychological distress compared to other populations. The current cross-sectional study aimed to fill a literature gap by examining a relationship between prescription opioid misuse and 3 dimensions of suicidality among a large sample of college students (n = 889). Binomial logistic regression examined relationships between prescription opioid misuse and suicidality while adjusting for the effect of important demographic and substance use covariates. Among this sample 38.8% reported suicidal ideation, 11.6% reported making a plan to kill themselves, and 7.8% reported at least one suicide attempt in the past 12 months. Past year prescription opioid misuse was common (21.6% of participants) and significantly associated with each dimension of suicidality. Though the relationships were attenuated, past year prescription opioid misuse remained significantly associated with suicidal ideation, planning, and attempts following covariate adjustment. At a local level, University health promotion specialists should give particular consideration to individuals exhibiting prescription opioid misuse as this may serve as an indicator of underlying psychological distress and possible suicidality.



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