University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Place of Publication

Chattanooga (Tenn.)


Non-medical prescription drug abuse is an issue that has plagued adolescents in the United States over the past decade and more. Also, depression is prevalent among our youth with 31% reporting multiple depressive episodes in the past year. As such, the purpose of this study was to assess the relationship between non-medical use of prescription drugs (NMUPD) and sexual behaviors among depressed high school students. Data was derived from the 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (n=15,624). This national study is conducted every odd year, and is a representative sample of high school students in the United States. Logistic regression was conducted to determine the relationship between NMUPD and sexual behavior among students who self-reported a depressive episode. The results of this study found that those student who reported NMUPD and multiple depressive episodes in the past year were significantly more likely to have initiated sexual intercourse, have had sex with 4 or more sexual partners, to be currently sexually active, and to have used alcohol or other drugs before their last sexual encounter. The results of this study seems to indicate that high school students who are depressed may self-medicate with narcotic drugs that were not prescribed to them. In turn, as a result of impaired judgment of narcotic drugs, they may engage in risky sexual behaviors. This research supports calls by other researchers to address issues related to NMUPD early in adolescence. Additionally, these results may extend further the need to develop positive mental health campaigns to identify prolonged negative mood states among adolescents.


adolescents, non-medical prescription drug abuse, sexual behavior, depression




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