Medical Use, Nonmedical Use of Prescription Medication and Risk Behaviour among Croatian Adolescents

Kuzman, M. and Posavec, M.
Journal / Publication name: 
Psychiatria Danubina


At the drug scene some major shifts were observed, more and more reports highlighted the abuse of prescription medication. Despite the importance of controlled medication in treatment child and adolescent disorders, this increase may be a factor which influence misuse and nonmedical use of prescribed drugs among adolescents.


Croatian data from ESPAD survey in 2003, 2007 and 2011 were used, and variables selected from the international ESPAD questionnaire. Dependent variable was taking tranquilizers or sedatives prescribed by doctor in the past 12 months. Independent variables were nonmedical use of tranquilizers/sedatives, use of other psychoactive substances, school performance, truancy, delinquent behaviour, satisfaction with relationships with parents, friends, health, self-perception, financial situation and symptoms of depression. The respondents were 8849 students (4393 boys and 4456 girls) in three consecutive ESPAD surveys (2003, 2007 and 2011).


In multivariate analysis for all three survey years the strongest predictor for prescription medication use was use of sedatives/tranquilizers without prescription (OR 6.14; CI 4.08-9.23; OR 8.16; CI4.65-14.32; OR 9.77; CI5.92-15.13). Frequent drinking and excessive drinking or drunkenness also predicted prescription medication use, (OR 1.85; CI1.10-3.10; OR 2.01: CI 1.20-3.39). Among other problem behaviours lower school performance (OR 2.92; CI 1.41-6.05; OR 2.56; CI 1.12-5.87), missed school days OR 1.59; OR1.01-2.51; OR1.72; CI 1.03-2.87), aggressive behaviour (OR 1.532; CI 1.01-2.28; OR1.65; CI 1.04-2.62), depressive symptoms (OR 2.19; CI 1.24-3.85) and poorer financial situation were connected with prescription medication use.


Prescription use of tranquilizers/sedatives was predicted by nonmedical tranquilizers/sedatives use, alcohol abuse, symptoms of depression and variables indicating maladjusted behaviour. Although there is sufficient evidence that prescription medication abuse might went unobserved, the further analysis which could better explain its' role and impact is still needed.

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