HealthDay News — Teens who use abuse prescription drugs such as opioids are more likely to have sex or to participate in risky sexual behaviors, according to a study published in Pediatrics.

The researchers reviewed surveys about risky behaviors completed by 29 008 high school students. Specifically, the survey asked: “During your life, how many times have you taken a prescription drug [such as Oxycontin, Percocet, Vicodin, codeine, Adderall, Ritalin, or Xanax] without a doctor’s prescription?”

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Compared to their peers who didn’t use prescription drugs for recreational reasons, teens who used prescription drugs for non-medical reasons were 16% more likely to have ever had sex; 26% more likely to be currently sexually active; 14% more likely to not have used a condom the last time they had sex; 32% more likely to have used drugs or alcohol before they had sex; and 45 percent more likely to have at least four previous sexual partners. 

The surveys also found that the more teens used prescription drugs recreationally, the more likely they were to engage in all of these risky behaviors.

“About one out of every five high school students reported non-medical use of prescription drugs,” study author Heather , PhD, MPH, a health scientist in the division of adolescent and school health at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, told HealthDay. “This behavior is very concerning, as overdoses and deaths related to non-medical use of prescription drugs is on the rise.”


Clayton H, Lowry R, August E, Jones S. Nonmedical Use of Prescription Drugs and Sexual Risk Behaviors. Pediatrics. 2015:peds.2015-2480. doi:10.1542/peds.2015-2480.