(HealthDay News) – Use of prescription pain relievers to get high or for other nonmedical purposes (extramedical use) peaks around age 16 years, according to a study published online May 7 in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

From 2004–2008, Elizabeth A. Meier, PhD, of Michigan State University in East Lansing, and colleagues conducted a cross-sectional survey of 138,729 adolescents aged 12–21 years to identify when extramedical use of prescription pain relievers peaks.

The researchers found that the risk of beginning extramedical use of prescription pain relievers was highest when youth were 16 years of age, when an estimated 2%–3% became new users. At ages 12–14 years and 19–21 years, smaller peaks were noted.

“Appreciating that recent school survey data provide modest external confirmation of this project’s nationally representative sample evidence, we draw attention to the timing of potential prevention and intervention approaches given the observed peak risk during midadolescence and a rise and fall of risk estimates before and after midadolescence,” the authors write.

One author is a consultant for CRS Associates Inc. on topics relating to prescription opioids, including products by Reckitt-Benckhiser and Purdue Pharma.

Full Text (subscription or payment may be required)