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Prescription Drug Misuse in Late Adulthood: An Empirical Examination of Competing Explanations

NCJ Number
Journal of Drug Issues Volume: 45 Issue: 4 Dated: October 2015 Pages: 351-367
Date Published
October 2015
17 pages

Using cross-sectional data from telephone interviews with individuals aged 60 years and older in Arizona and Florida (N = 2,000), this study tested whether hypotheses derived from general strain and low self-control theories are supported while investigating misusing prescription medication.


Results from the regression analyses reveal that the association between poor health (conceptualized as a strain) and misusing prescription drugs (conceptualized as criminal coping) is partially explained by depressive symptoms (conceptualized as negative emotionality). The link between problem drinking and prescription drug misuse is fully attenuated when low self-control is included in the model. The results confirm that both theories provide insight into this public health problem and that treatment strategies should target the underlying mechanisms that lead to misuse. (Publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: October 1, 2015