(HealthDay News) – About one in 10 young people who use the emergency department report non-medical prescription opiate use (NPOU) or non-medical prescription sedative use (NPSU), according to a study published online Oct. 28 in Pediatrics.

Lauren K. Whiteside, MD, from the University of Washington in Seattle, and colleagues recruited 14- to 20-year-olds presenting to the emergency department between September 2010 and September 2011. Data were obtained from a retrospective chart review and a computerized, self-report screening survey with validated items measuring past-year NPOU, NPSU, substance use, and violence, completed by 2,135 participants.

The researchers found that 10.4% of participants reported either NPOU or NPSU. Of the 8.7% and 5.4% of participants who reported NPOU and NPSU, respectively, 14.6% and 12.3% had a current home prescription for an opioid and for a sedative. Other substance use, drinking and driving, or riding with a drinking driver were correlates of NPOU or NPSU after adjustment for demographic characteristics. Receiving an intravenous opioid in the emergency department correlated with NPOU, while dating violence, presenting to the emergency department for a noninjury complaint, and previous emergency department visit in the past year correlated with NPSU.

“These results suggest the emergency department is an ideal location for both screening and intervention given this risk factor profile and emergency department visit characteristics associated with both NPOU and NPSU,” the authors conclude.

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