Maternal and Child Health Journal

, Volume 19, Issue 12, pp 2646–2653 | Cite as

Association Between Childhood Residential Mobility and Non-medical Use of Prescription Drugs Among American Youth

  • Meagan E. Stabler
  • Kelly K. Gurka
  • Laura R. Lander



Prescription drug abuse is a public health epidemic, resulting in 15,000 deaths annually. Disruption of childhood residence has been shown to increase drug-seeking behavior among adolescents; however, little research has explored its association specifically with non-medical use of prescription drugs (NMUPD). The objective of the study was to measure the association between residential mobility and NMUPD.


The 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health data were analyzed for 15,745 participants aged 12–17 years. NMUPD was defined as self-report of any non-medical use (i.e., taking a prescription drug that was not prescribed to them or consumption for recreational purposes) of tranquilizers, pain relievers, sedatives, or stimulants. Logistic regression for survey data was used to estimate the association between residential mobility and NMUPD, adjusting for potential confounders.


After controlling for demographic, intrapersonal, interpersonal, and community factors, adolescents with low mobility (1–2 moves in the past 5 years) and residential instability (≥3 moves) were 16 % (OR 1.16, 95 % CI 1.01, 1.33) and 25 % (OR 1.25, 95 % CI 1.00, 1.56) more likely to report NMUPD compared to non-mobile adolescents (0 moves). Low-mobile adolescents were 18 % (OR 1.18, 95 % CI 1.01, 1.38) more likely to abuse pain relievers, specifically. No relationship was found between moving and tranquilizer, stimulant, or sedative use.


Increasing childhood residential mobility is associated with NMUPD; therefore, efforts to prevent NMUPD should target mobile adolescents. Further examination of the psychological effects of moving and its association with pain reliever abuse is indicated.


Residential mobility Adolescents Health behavior Prescription drug misuse Opioids 



Kelly Gurka was partially supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Grant R49CE002109. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the CDC.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Meagan E. Stabler
    • 1
  • Kelly K. Gurka
    • 2
  • Laura R. Lander
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Epidemiology, Robert C. Byrd Health Sciences CenterWest Virginia University School of Public HealthMorgantownUSA
  2. 2.Department of Epidemiology, Injury Control Research CenterWest Virginia University School of Public HealthMorgantownUSA
  3. 3.Department of Behavioral Medicine and Psychiatry, Chestnut Ridge CenterWest Virginia University School of MedicineMorgantownUSA

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