10.1007/s10560-020-00721-0 ">


Race differences in opioid misuse and adolescent suicidality

Document Type


Publication Date



Social Work

Publication Title

Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal


© 2020, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature. The rise of the opioid epidemic coincided with the increased risk of suicide as the leading causes of death among adolescents in the United States. Past research has linked non-medical prescription opioid use (NMPOU) with adolescent suicide. Less focus has been placed on race and ethnic differences among adolescents impacted by the opioid epidemic. This study examined the relationship of adolescent NMPOU and suicidality, stratified by race. The 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) was used for this study. Weighted multivariate logistic regression analyses were conducted on a sample of 11,489 adolescent respondents to examine the effect of past-year NMPOU with the odds for serious thoughts of suicide, having a suicide plan, and making a suicide attempt. Findings indicated a higher prevalence of suicidality among adolescents who engaged in NMPOU compared to non-users. Adolescent opioid misuse was associated with 68% higher odds for having a suicide plan in the past year (OR = 1.68, 95% CI 1.07, 2.63, p <.05). Interaction analysis found that among Asian adolescents, NMPOU was associated with higher odds for having a suicide plan compared to other race groups (OR = 1.53, 95% CI 1.04, 2.23, p <.05). Results indicated that adolescent opioid misuse is a risk factor for suicide, and Asians compared to other race groups were at greater risk. Social workers can serve as a nexus point in effectively engaging at-risk adolescents in substance use and mental health prevention and recovery services.

Link to Published Version