142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition

Annual Meeting Recordings are now available for purchase

Perceived Harm of Prescription Opiate Drugs and Reasons for Misuse

142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition (November 15 - November 19, 2014): http://www.apha.org/events-and-meetings/annual
Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Deric Kenne, PhD , Department of Health Policy and Management, Kent State University, Kent, OH
Jennifer Bryant , Kent State University, Kent, OH
Lauren Birmingham , Kent State University, Kent, OH
Allison Thomas
Amy Beck

The recent increasing misuse of prescription opiates has been well documented and the effects of this misuse has had a considerable negative impact to the public health of communities. Some have suggested that the perceived safety of misusing these drugs is also contributing to the increased incidence of opiate dependence, overdose deaths and other related health problems.


To examine the perceptions of harm associated with prescription opiates, and to begin to understand reasons for misuse, an anonymous online survey was developed and distributed to a random sample of 1500 undergraduate and 500 graduate students. Participation in the survey was incentivized. Descriptive and inferential analyses were conducted.


A total of 703 surveys (35.2%) were completed with the majority of participants being Caucasian (82%) and female (69.4%). 7.5% reported misuse of hydrocodone/acetaminophen, 3.8% oxycodone/acetaminophen and 2.5% oxycodone controlled-release. Reasons for misuse included to relieve pain, get high and experiment. The majority of participants generally perceived prescription opiate drugs to be dangerous, ranging from 4.82 to 5.80 on a scale from 1 (very safe) to 6 (very dangerous). Perceived harmfulness of prescription opiate drugs was significantly lower among males compared to females.

Conclusions: Perceived harmfulness of prescription opiates is likely a contributing factor misuse ultimately increasing the potential for subsequent opiate dependence. Results suggest that interventions to reduce misuse may need to be tailored to individual population characteristics to be most effective.

Learning Areas:

Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs

Learning Objectives:
Describe the perceived harmfulness of prescription opiate drugs among college students, List the reasons for prescription opiate misuse, Discuss implications for public health interventions.

Keyword(s): Drug Abuse, Drug Abuse Prevention and Safety

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the PI on the project from which the data were collected and have been a researcher in the area of substance abuse for more than 10 years.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.