Non-medical prescription drug use among Estonian adults
The aim was to describe a non-medical use of prescription drugs (like sedatives, tranquilizers and pain relievers available on prescription only) (NPDU) and associated factors among Estonian adult population.
Methods: A cross-sectional population survey was conducted in 2018. A survey questionnaire was sent to 5000 Estonian people aged 16 to 64 years. Bivariate and multivariable associations were investigated.
Results: In total of 16% (95% CI 14%-18%, n=206) females and 11% (95% CI 9%-13%, n=99) of males reported life-time use of NPDU. Last year prevalence was 4% (95%CI 3%-5%, n=46) and 2% (95%CI 1%-3%, n=15), respectively. Females had higher odds (OR=2.1, 95%CI 1.2–3.8) for NPDU than males. After controlling for gender being not-married (OR=2.1, 95%CI 1.3–3.6), self-reported depression symptoms (OR= 3.5, 95%CI 2.0–6.2) and poor physical health (OR=2.5, 95%CI 1.8–3.6) were related to higher odds of last year NPDU. Age, educational level, nationality, employment status, income, problem alcohol use, current smoking and drug use (incl cannabis) were not related to NPDU. The reasons for NPDU were stress relief, to change mood, self-medication for pain, for sleep or for other health conditions. Sources for obtaining the drug were: previously prescribed by a doctor, received from a friend or a family member, bought from the street and/or abroad.
Conclusions: Although the proportion of the sample who reported last year NPDU was small, this study provides first evidence about NPDU among Estonian adults. It appeared that three persons out of hundred had NPDU in the last year. NPDU was related to depressive symptoms and poor physical health, which warrants special attention because it could create further serious health issues. As NPDU was not related to other substance use, it may imply that NPDU users can be a hidden and a vulnerable subgroup. Therefore, further research is needed to tailor prevention and treatment efforts for them.