Prescription Drug Misuse in Late Adulthood: An Empirical Examination of Competing Explanations

Kristy Reisig, Michael Reisig, Eryn Nicole O'neal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Prescription drug misuse is a public health problem, and older adults are at high risk. The underlying factors associated with this problem in late adulthood are not well understood. Using cross-sectional data from telephone interviews with individuals aged 60 years and older in Arizona and Florida (N = 2,000), this study tests whether hypotheses derived from general strain and low self-control theories are supported while investigating misusing prescription medication. Results from the regression analyses reveal that the association between poor health (conceptualized as a strain) and misusing prescription drugs (conceptualized as criminal coping) is partially explained by depressive symptoms (conceptualized as negative emotionality). The link between problem drinking and prescription drug misuse is fully attenuated when low self-control is included in the model. The results confirm that both theories provide insight into this public health problem and that treatment strategies should target the underlying mechanisms that lead to misuse.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)351-367
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Drug Issues
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2015


  • depression
  • late adulthood
  • older adults
  • prescription drug abuse
  • self-control

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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