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Young Adults Who Do Not Attend College Are More Likely To Abuse Painkillers

An interesting study has just been completed by Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. The study compares the use of prescription opioids and stimulants among high-school graduates, non-graduates and college-attending peers.

The research found that non-college-attending young adults with high school degrees account for 13.1% for reported use of prescription opioids. Whereas the figures slightly rose to 13.2% for those who did not graduate from high school and it declined to a further 11.3% among college attendees.

Now I know what you are thinking, what do the above results really mean, and do they mean that the more educated or intelligent we are or become – we are resistant to opiate addiction? The answer...NOT A CHANCE!

I am an excellent (although unfortunate or fortunate depending on your perspective) exception to the rule in the context of the above statistics; but in response to these statistics – let me be clear, anyone can become addicted to opioids. And when I mean anyone, I am casting a wide net, so wide you might think, ‘who are these people’? I’ll tell you: Doctors, Lawyers, Engineers, Scientists, Researchers, Builders, Homeless, Academic and PhD Candidates, Astronauts, Teachers...I hope you get the picture I am painting here on this canvas.

Almost anyone with a beating heart can become victim to the addiction of opioids and even other addictive substances should the right conditions align for the opportunity to occur. Take me for example, I have a Bachelor’s degree in Communications and Political Studies, I also have a Master’s Degree in Project Management, and several other accreditations. Did this matter when I became addicted to opiates? It made absolutely no difference; I became a slave to the addiction just like any other addict struggling to cope with this insidious disease.

Perhaps this is why there is still a stigma attached to substance addiction. Many people in society feel as though the person working 5 days a week with a steady job addicted to painkillers is vastly different or somehow it is acceptable compared to someone who is homeless on the street addicted to heroin. Sure, their clothes might be different, the way in which they live are different – but they are both a slave to an addictive substance that produces negative consequences the more they continue to use and consume drugs.

In an additionally interesting set of statistics, the reverse of the above figures were found to be true for college-attending graduates when analyzing the use of stimulants among the different peer groups. So those without a high school degree and those who completed high school or the equivalent level of education were less likely to have used non-medical stimulants compared to their college-attending peers. Interesting to say the least!

Remember, there are always exceptions to the rule, and rules to the exception. What I mean by this statement is that all people from all walks of life are found to suffer from dependence and addiction to opioids and dependence and addiction to stimulants. It is NOT the choice of drug that is important; it is the focus on getting into recovery no matter what substance is being used.


  1. Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health. (2014, December 1). Skipping college makes young people more likely to abuse pain pills.ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 4, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/12/141201163341.htm

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