Study: Dating violence associated with nonmedical use of prescription drugs
MelissaJenco, News Content Editor
Researchers have found links between teen dating violence and nonmedical use of prescription
However, males and females experience this violence differently, according to the
study “Physical and Sexual Dating Violence and Nonmedical Use of Prescription Drugs”
(Clayton HB, et al. Pediatrics. Nov. 20, 2017, https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2017-2289).
Previous research has shown dating violence is associated with risky behaviors, but
studies linking it to NMUPD have been limited. Roughly 16.8% of high school students
have use prescription drugs to get high, according to the 2015 National Youth Risk
Behavior Survey (YRBS).
To study possible connections between dating violence and NMUPD, researchers from
the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analyzed 2015 YRBS data on more than
10,000 high school students who said they had dated during the past 12 months.
They grouped the teens into four categories based on their experiences as victims
— no dating violence, physical violence only, sexual violence only or both physical
and sexual violence.
Roughly 21.4% of females and 9.6% of males reported experiencing dating violence in
the past year.
The study found that for females, NMUPD was associated with physical dating violence
or having experienced both physical and sexual violence. For males, NMUPD was associated
with sexual dating violence or having experienced both physical and sexual violence.
“It is likely that the association operates in both directions, as research has suggested
that substance use behaviors may increase the risk for violence victimization, but
also that youth who have been victimized may be more likely to engage in substance
use behaviors,” authors wrote.
The associations held up when adjusting for other substance use. The team also found
the frequency of the violence impacted ties to NMUPD.
They said the link between NMUPD and dating violence should be considered when screening
adolescents and when undertaking local violence or substance use prevention efforts.
The author of a related commentary said the two may “share common causes.”
“Clinicians and frontline providers serving adolescents should recognize that young
people at risk for substance use, including NMUPD, are likely to have exposure to
unhealthy and abusive relationships, which can further exacerbate substance misuse,”
Elizabeth Miller, M.D., Ph.D., FAAP, wrote. “Positive youth development approaches
known to reduce adolescent substance abuse and violence may be especially pertinent
for tackling this nexus of NMUPD and DV (dating violence) victimization.”