Prescription Pain Reliever Misuse: An Explanatory Study of the Social Factors Contributing to Prescription Pain Reliever Misuse


  • James Nathaniel Payne Tennessee Technological University, Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse
  • Steven Seiler Tennessee Technological University


Introduction: The opioid epidemic as a social problem has increasingly received more attention from the mass media as well as the scientific community. Despite all this attention substance use disorders involving prescription pain relievers affect roughly 1.9 million Americans annually. Aims: The purpose of this study was to understand the impact of mental health and risky behaviors such as alcohol use on propensity for non-medical prescription pain reliever use. Design & Methods: The data for this study came from the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health A multivariate logistic regression analysis was run on a number of variables pulled from the survey. Results: The study showed that certain mental conditions and risky behaviors increase one’s propensity for non-medical prescription pain reliever use. Discussion: The findings of the study suggest (1) future research is necessary to understand further the correlations among mental health, risky behavior, and non-medical prescription pain reliever use; (2) that greater attention by all stakeholders to one’s mental health history is a significant factor in affecting the aforementioned epidemic; and (3) that greater attention to individual willingness to participate risky behavior (e.g., frequent alcohol consumption) could significantly impact the epidemic. Conclusion: The findings in this study can potentially assist healthcare providers in safer prescribing practices as well as other practical applications. With a broader knowledge of conditions correlated to the use of prescription pain relievers for non-medical reasons, the medical community could engage in safer prescribing of this potent medication.