A new study published in the December 2017 issue of Pediatrics reports an association between high school students' use of prescription drugs for non-medical reasons and dating violence victimization, with some differences observed between males and females.
The study, "Physical and Sexual Dating Violence and Non-Medical Use of Prescription Drugs" (released online Nov. 20) analyzed data provided by the 2015 national Youth Risk Behavior Survey. The sample included 5,136 males and 5,307 females in grades 9-12 who dated during the prior 12 months before the survey. In 2015, 9.6% of students reported that they had experienced physical dating violence, while 10.6% experienced sexual dating violence. Among males, non-medical use of prescription drugs was associated with sexual dating violence victimization. For female students, the non-medical use of prescription drugs was reported more often with the physical form of dating violence victimization.
The authors note that the mechanisms behind the associations are likely complex. They recommend that prevention programs aimed at dating violence include messages on substance use, particularly the non-medical use of prescription drugs.
Editor's note: A solicited commentary, "Adolescent dating violence and non-medical prescription drug use" will be published in the same issue of Pediatrics.