The type of drugs of choice used by young adults differs between those who attend college and those who do not, a new study shows. Authors of the study conclude prevention messages in early age can play an important role to inhibit use in either group.

A new study shows that college-educated young adults were more at risk of prescription stimulant use while their non-college counterparts leaned more toward use of non-medical prescription opioids, according to a report in Medical News Today.

Drugs in the opioid class include hydrocodone, oxycontin and morphine and are classified as pain relievers. Stimulants include the amphetamine class, affect the central nervous system and elevate heart rate, blood pressure and respiration, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Results of the study were published in The Journal of Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology.

Primary author of the study Silvia S. Martins indicated that little has been known about the use of prescription drugs among non-college-attending young adults in the United States. Her study drew data from more than 36,000 young adults aged 18-22.

In addition to investigating the non-medicinal use of opioids, researchers also investigated the use of stimulants in the young adults. 

Participants in the study who did not attend college were less likely to have used stimulants than those who were enrolled in college. Other factors included where the study participants lived. It was found that those who lived in big cities were more likely to use non-prescription stimulants.