(CNN)Over one-third of young adults misuse their psychoactive prescription drugs, a new study has revealed.
Some 34% of adults ages 18 to 25 misused their psychoactive medications, defined as opioids, stimulants, tranquilizers and sedatives, according to a study published Tuesday in the British Medical Journal.
Misusing the drug was defined as taking a prescription in larger quantities than prescribed, more frequently than prescribed, for longer than prescribed or in any way that was not specified by their health care provider. Someone taking a drug that was not prescribed to them was also considered misuse.
The misuse of psychoactive drugs can lead to overdoses, chemical dependency and in severe cases, death, said lead study author Israel Agaku, lecturer in the department of oral health policy and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Dental Medicine.
Reseachers gathered data from surveys of US youth and young adults taken between 2015 and 2018.