Association between nonmedical prescription drug use and health status among young Swiss men

J Adolesc Health. 2014 Oct;55(4):549-55. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2014.04.004. Epub 2014 May 21.


Purpose: To examine the relationship between the nonmedical prescription drug use (NMPDU) of six drug classes and health.

Methods: Data on young adults males (mean age, 19.96 years) from the baseline and follow-up of the Cohort Study on Substance Use Risk Factors (C-SURF) were used (n = 4,958). Two sets of logistic regression models were fitted to examine the associations between NMPDU of opioid analgesics, sedatives or sleeping pills, anxiolytics, antidepressants, beta blockers and stimulants, and health status (assessed using the Medical Outcomes Study 12-Item Short Form Survey Instrument [SF-12 v2]). We first computed odds ratios between NMPDU at baseline and poor mental and physical health at follow-up, adjusting for poor mental or physical health at baseline. We then computed odds ratios between poor mental and physical health at baseline and NMPDU at follow-up, adjusting for NMPDU at baseline.

Results: Three key findings regarding mental health were (1) there was a reciprocal risk between poor mental health and sedatives and anxiolytics; (2) poor mental health increased NMPDU of opioid analgesics and antidepressants but not vice versa; and (3) there were no associations with stimulants. Three key findings regarding physical health were (1) poor physical health increased the risk of NMPDU of anxiolytics; (2) the only reciprocal risk was between physical health and NMPDU of opioid analgesics; and (3) there were no associations with stimulants.

Conclusion: These results, among the first ever on reciprocal effects between NMPDU and mental and physical health status, give unique information concerning the adverse effects of NMPDU on health and vice versa. The study shows that NMPDU is not only a sign of self-medication but may induce health problems.

Keywords: Longitudinal study; Mental health; NMPDU; Physical health; Switzerland; Young men.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives / therapeutic use
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Marijuana Smoking / epidemiology
  • Mental Health*
  • Nonprescription Drugs / therapeutic use*
  • Switzerland / epidemiology
  • Young Adult


  • Hypnotics and Sedatives
  • Nonprescription Drugs