As cases of opioid abuse disorder continue to climb in the U.S., researchers at Penn State and Syracuse University have made a discovery.
Unmarried young adults are at the greatest risk of abusing opioid drugs.
The findings can be found in "Opioid misuse and family structure: Changes and continuities in the role of marriage and children over two decades," published recently by Drug and Alcohol Dependence[i].
Previous studies have shown that many who suffer from opioid use disorder saw their addiction begin early in life.
This latest analysis looked at a "representative" sample of U.S. adults ages 18-34 – seeking to understand any links between family structure and opioid abuse.
Individuals from all family structures are vulnerable to the opioid crisis… We found that married adults have a lower predicted probability of each opioid use behavior relative to nonmarried adults across the study period. We also found that the presence of children is associated with reductions in all three outcomes, especially for never-married adults…
Never married adults without coresident children ("disconnected adults") are especially susceptible to temporal fluctuations and drive the temporal trends in prescription pain reliever misuse and heroin use.
The study authors conclude with a warning… The "disconnected adults" population cluster is growing in America. This trend may lead to new spikes in opioid use disorder cases and a rise in overdose deaths.
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