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Research Highlights Rural Adolescent Use of Prescription Painkillers

Adolescents who live in rural areas and small towns and cities are more likely to abuse prescription painkillers than adolescents who live in large urban areas, according to sociologists.

Adolescents — youths between 12 and 17 — in rural communities are 35 percent more likely to have abused prescription painkillers in the past year than adolescents living in large cities. Adolescents who live in small cities have a 21 percent greater likelihood of abusing prescription painkillers than their large urban counterparts.

“Over 1.3 million adolescents abused prescription opioids within the last year,” said Shannon Monnat, assistant professor of rural sociology, demography, and sociology, at Penn State. “With this number of adolescents there are major implications for increased treatment demand, risk of overdose and even death from these opioids.”

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