American International Journal of Social Science

ISSN 2325-4149(Print), ISSN 2325-4165(Online) DIO: 10.30845/aijss

Playing with Fire: The Relationship between Mental Disorders and Prescription Opioid Abuse in a Rural Juvenile Court Sample
Keith F. Durkin, Ph.D; Wade A. Melton, LSW, PJJA, M.A.C.E; Tristin M. Kilgallon, J.D., LL.M;

The United States is in the ruthless grip of a terrible opioid epidemic that has hit rural areas especially hard. This horrible addiction often begins with the misuse of prescription opioids. This paper documents the relationship between co-occurring mental disorders and prescription opioid abuse in a sample of 99 youths involved with a juvenile court in a rural county in Ohio. Results indicate that juveniles who reported misusing prescription opioids were more likely than the other juveniles to report having any type of mental health problem, any type of externalizing problem, and any type of internalizing problem. Compared to other subjects, youths who reported opioid abuse were 2.5 times more likely to have symptoms consistent with a mood disorder (including depression) and more than 7 times more likely to report symptoms reflecting general anxiety disorder. Juveniles who reported misuse of prescription opioids were also more likely than their peers to report symptoms of ADD/ADHD and conduct disorder. Directions for future research and implications of the problem of prescription opioid abuse for juvenile courts are also considered.

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