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date: 19 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Nonmedical use of prescription drugs can pose a variety of serious public health threats. Rapid increases in the use of prescription drugs were observed at the turn of the 21st century and prompted new research and several actions by communities and policymakers. Adolescents and young adults are at heightened risk for this type of substance use. The evidence suggests that nonmedical use of prescription drugs overlaps significantly with alcohol and other drug problems, and it might be a sign of more severe involvement with illicit substance use. This chapter describes the epidemiology, availability and sources, motives, risk factors, and consequences of nonmedical prescription drug use among adolescents and young adults. Special topics include nonmedical use of prescription stimulants and academic performance, associations with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and mental health, and diversion behavior. Future directions for research and strategies for demand and supply reduction are described.

Keywords: nonmedical use, medications, diversion, stimulants, analgesics, sedatives, tranquilizers, anxiolytics, medications, academic performance

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