Prescription Drug Misuse Among U.S. Mothers of Minor Children in 2015–2019: Trends, Profiles, and Behavioral Health Comorbidities

Sehun Oh, Christopher P. Salas-Wright, Michael G. Vaughn, Bridget Freisthler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Despite the persistent and elevated risks of prescription drug misuse (PDM) among parenting mothers in the United States, few population-based studies of this phenomenon have been conducted. To address this gap, the present study examined the latest PDM trends and patterns among parenting mothers and assessed their behavioral health comorbidities and treatment utilization. Method: Data were derived from a nationally representative U.S. sample of parenting mothers recruited for the 2015–2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. After examining PDM trends since 2015, we conducted a latent class analysis to identify distinctive PDM patterns among mothers reporting past-year PDM (n = 3,042). Associations between class membership and behavioral health comorbidities/treatment receipt were tested. Results: We found increasing PDM trends among unmarried Hispanic mothers since 2015, whereas no notable changes were observed for other racial/ethnic groups. Of the mothers reporting past-year PDM, nearly 50% were likely to misuse prescription stimulants with alcohol/ marijuana (17.9%) or multiple prescription drugs (31.7%). Specifi-cally, the Poly-Prescription Drug Misuse group reported greater risks of illicit drug use and mental disorders than the Prescription Opioids Misuse group. Conclusions: Our findings suggest that special attention is needed for PDM among unmarried Hispanic (for recent increasing trends) and White (for persistently higher rates) mothers as well as mothers misusing multiple prescription drugs. Their distinctive PDM patterns as well as heightened behavioral health comorbidities and low treatment receipt suggest the need for a screening and treatment referral system that addresses the unique treatment needs and barriers facing parenting mothers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)712-720
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, Alcohol Research Documentation Inc.. All rights reserved.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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