Submitted: 20 Aug 2019
Accepted: 05 Dec 2019
ePublished: 28 Jan 2020
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Health Promot Perspect. 2020;10(1): 59-65.
doi: 10.15171/hpp.2020.10
  Abstract View: 104
  PDF Download: 26

Original Article

Screening for depression among a sample of US college students who engage in recreational prescription opioid misuse

Robert E. Davis 1 * ORCID logo, Martha A. Bass 2, M. Allison Wade 2, Vinayak K. Nahar 3,4 ORCID logo

1 Substance Use and Mental Health Laboratory, Department of Health, Human Performance and Recreation, University of Arkansas, 155 N. Stadium Dr. HPER 310B, Fayetteville, AR 72701, USA
2 Department of Health, Exercise Science Recreation Management, University of Mississippi, 218 Turner Center, University, MS 38677, USA
3 Department of Preventive Medicine, University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson, MS, USA
4 Department of Dermatology, University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson, MS, USA
*Corresponding Author: Robert E. Davis, Email: red007@uark.edu


Background: Among student populations, literature has identified associations between prescription opioid misuse and symptoms of depression such as hopelessness, sadness, and emotional pain. Thus far, existing literature has yet to investigate associations between prescription opioid misuse and depression using validated screening instruments for depression when exploring such associations. The purpose of this study was to utilize a validated screening tool to explore quantifiable presence of depression among college students who engage in recreational prescription opioid misuse (RPOM). Additionally, gender differences in depression and co-occurring substance use are examined.

Methods: Students (n = 104) of a large university in the Southeastern United States who reported ROM within the past 6 months completed instrumentation assessing demographics, substance use, as well as, screening tools for depression and possible opioid use disorder (OUD).

Results: Positive depression screens were significantly higher among females, however, nearly56% of participants screened positive for major depression. Though high levels of co-occurring substance use were observed among the entire sample, males were significantly more likely to report cocaine use, more frequent use of alcohol and marijuana, as well as, exhibit a positive screen for disordered opioid use, at a rate 5 times that of their female counterparts.

Conclusion: Students who engage in RPOM are a particularly heightened-risk subsample of the college population who exhibit high levels of depressive symptomatology and substance use behavior. Targeted programming and further investigations are needed among this specific population. Future studies are encouraged to utilize validated instruments when assessing depression among students.

Keywords: Depression, Marijuana, Opioid, Sadness, Students
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