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    Research News Roundup: April 27, 2023

    Harm Reduction and Recovery Services Support (HRRSS) to Mitigate the Opioid Overdose Epidemic in a Rural Community

    Journal: Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy, 2023, doi: 10.1186/s13011-023-00532-3

    Authors: Moonseong Heo, Taylor Beachler, Laksika B. Sivaraj, Hui-Lin Tsai, Ashlyn Chea, Avish Patel, Alain H. Litwin & T. Aaron Zeller


    Background: Rural areas in the United States (US) are ravaged by the opioid overdose epidemic. Oconee County, an entirely rural county in northwest South Carolina, is likewise severely affected. Lack of harm reduction and recovery resources (e.g., social capital) that could mitigate the worst outcomes may be exacerbating the problem. We aimed to identify demographic and other factors associated with support for harm reduction and recovery services in the community.

    Methods: The Oconee County Opioid Response Taskforce conducted a 46-item survey targeting a general population between May and June in 2022, which was mainly distributed through social media networks. The survey included demographic factors and assessed attitudes and beliefs toward individuals with opioid use disorder (OUD) and medications for OUD, and support for harm reduction and recovery services, such as syringe services programs and safe consumption sites. We developed a Harm Reduction and Recovery Support Score (HRRSS), a composite score of nine items ranging from 0 to 9 to measure level of support for placement of naloxone in public places and harm reduction and recovery service sites. Primary statistical analysis using general linear regression models tested significance of differences in HRRSS between groups defined by item responses adjusting for demographic factors.

    Results: There were 338 survey responses: 67.5% were females, 52.1% were 55 years old or older, 87.3% were Whites, 83.1% were non-Hispanic, 53.0% were employed, and 53.8% had household income greater than US$50,000. The overall HRRSS was relatively low at a mean of 4.1 (SD = 2.3). Younger and employed respondents had significantly greater HRRSS. Among nine significant factors associated with HRRSS after adjusting for demographic factors, agreement that OUD is a disease had the greatest adjusted mean difference in HRSSS (adjusted diff = 1.22, 95% CI=(0.64, 1.80), p < 0.001), followed by effectiveness of medications for OUD (adjusted diff = 1.11, 95%CI=(0.50, 1.71), p < 0.001).

    Conclusions: Low HRRSS indicates low levels of acceptance of harm reduction potentially impacting both intangible and tangible social capital as it relates to mitigation of the opioid overdose epidemic. Increasing community awareness of the disease model of OUD and the effectiveness of medications for OUD, especially among older and unemployed populations, could be a step toward improving community uptake of the harm reduction and recovery service resources critical to individual recovery efforts.

    To read the full text of the article, please visit the publisher’s website.

    Journal: Addictive Behaviors, 2023, doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2023.107724

    Authors: Shirin Emma Herzig, Larisa Albers, Daniel Soto, Ryan Lee, Carla Ramirez, Tahsin Rahman & Jennifer B. Unger


    Background: The COVID-19 pandemic required the public to alter their daily lives drastically. For adolescents, school closures and social isolation added further challenges to a stressful stage of life, potentially increasing the likelihood of substance use initiation. This study explored the relationship between adolescent substance use initiation and negative life changes due to COVID-19.

    Methods: Students from 9 high schools (N=2478) in Los Angeles County were surveyed as 9th graders in the 2019-2020 school year and re-surveyed in 10th and 11th grades as part of an ongoing longitudinal study. Two logistic regression models were conducted to test hypotheses that negative life changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic increases the odds of initiation of both tobacco/nicotine products and cannabis products, controlling for sex, age, and race/ethnicity.

    Results: The final analytic sample included adolescents in 10th grade who were never-users of tobacco/nicotine (N=809) and cannabis (N=837). The odds of initiating cannabis use increased by 6.42% for every 1 standard deviation increase in the COVID-19 negative daily life changes index [AOR: 1.063; 95% CI: 1.010, 1.121]. The association between the COVID-19 negative daily life changes index and tobacco/nicotine use initiation was not significant.

    Discussion: Adolescents who experienced life changes due to COVID-19 were more likely to initiate cannabis use, but not tobacco/nicotine use. Results identify a need for early intervention efforts to promote effective coping skills and prevent cannabis initiation among adolescents during a wide-scale stressor, such as COVID-19.

    To read the full text of the article, please visit the publisher’s website.

    A Manualized Behavioral Therapy Intervention for Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Substance Use Disorder

    Journal: Case Reports in Psychiatry, 2023, doi: 10.1155/2023/8998160

    Authors: James McKowen, Amy Berger, Joshua Towbin, Amy M. Yule, Diana Woodward, Lisa Nowinski, Gina Forchelli, … Timothy E. Wilens


    Research highlights the increasing overlap of autism spectrum disorder and substance use disorders in young people. However, no behavioral treatments exist addressing this comorbidity despite great need. A team of clinicians developed an integrated behavioral protocol addressing substance use in youth with autism spectrum disorder. The multidisciplinary team developed 12 youth, 7 parent, and 3 joint modules based on established evidence-based therapies shown to have effectiveness separately addressing autism spectrum and substance use. Two cases are discussed to illuminate this integrated intervention. Adaptations to the protocol were made during feedback from patients and their parents. Further research is needed to determine the effectiveness of this preliminary protocol.

    To read the full text of the article, please visit the publisher’s website.

    Seeking Safety Intervention for Comorbid Post-Traumatic Stress and Substance Use Disorder: A Meta-Analysis

    Journal: Brain and Behavior, 2023, doi: 10.1002/brb3.2999

    Authors: Athena D. F. Sherman, Monique Balthazar, Wenhui Zhang, Sarah Febres-Cordero, Kristen D. Clark, Meredith Klepper, Mercy Coleman & Ursula Kelly


    Problem statement: Seeking Safety (SS) is a widely implemented cognitive-behavioral therapy for comorbid post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance use disorder (SUD). It is a present-focused coping skills model that is highly flexible, with varied methods of delivery, to maximize acceptability and client access. The purpose of this meta-analysis is to examine the effect of SS on comorbid PTSD and SUD across randomized control trials (RCTs). In addition, ours is the first meta-analysis to examine the dose-response of SS by comparing delivery of all 25 SS topics versus fewer.

    Methods and Design: Articles published before January 2, 2023 (CINAHL n = 16, PsycINFO n = 31, MEDLINE n = 27, Cochrane n = 38, and Scopus n = 618) were searched. Seven studies were included for meta-analysis and dose-response analysis.

    Results: Based on effect sizes (ES), meta-analysis revealed that SS has a medium group, time (p = .04), and time by group effect on substance use per the Addiction Severity Index at 3 months and a small effect on Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale scores by group, a large effect by time, and a medium time by group (p = .002) effect at 6 months. Based on the pooled ES examining various measures across multiple timepoints, SS had small to medium effects on substance use by time, group, or time by group and medium to large effects on PTSD symptoms by time, group, or time by group (except for the group effect at 3-month follow-up). Significant effects were found for substance use by time at 3 and 6 months and for PTSD postintervention, at 6 months and 9 months by group, time, and time by group while only by time at 3 months. Meta-regression revealed that partial dose versions of SS generally function as well as the full dose version of SS when observing long-term effects (greater than 3 months).

    Discussion: Findings suggest SS has merit in treating PTSD symptoms and SUD. Based on the summarized effect sizes, SS appears more effective in reducing PTSD than substance use, which converges with the larger treatment outcome literature that consistently finds this. We explore reasons that treatment of SUD is more challenging than treating PTSD and offer suggestions for practitioners. We emphasize the need for future studies to utilize common measures and provide full details of treatment delivery for optimal comparison across studies.

    To read the full text of the article, please visit the publisher’s website.

    Substance Use Disorder Bridge Clinics: Models, Evidence, and Future Directions

    Journal: Addiction Science & Clinical Practice, 2023, doi: 10.1186/s13722-023-00365-2

    Authors: Jessica L. Taylor, Sarah E. Wakeman, Alexander Y. Walley & Laura G. Kehoe


    Background: The opioid overdose and polysubstance use crises have led to the development of low-barrier, transitional substance use disorder (SUD) treatment models, including bridge clinics. Bridge clinics offer immediate access to medications for opioid use disorder (MOUD) and other SUD treatment and are increasingly numerous. However, given relatively recent implementation, the clinical impact of bridge clinics is not well described.

    Methods: In this narrative review, we describe existing bridge clinic models, services provided, and unique characteristics, highlighting how bridge clinics fill critical gaps in the SUD care continuum. We discuss available evidence for bridge clinic effectiveness in care delivery, including retention in SUD care. We also highlight gaps in available data.

    Results: The first era of bridge clinic implementation has yielded diverse models united in the mission to lower barriers to SUD treatment entry, and preliminary data indicate success in patient-centered program design, MOUD initiation, MOUD retention, and SUD care innovation. However, data on effectiveness in linking to long-term care are limited.

    Conclusions: Bridge clinics represent a critical innovation, offering on-demand access to MOUD and other services. Evaluating the effectiveness of bridge clinics in linking patients to long-term care settings remains an important research priority; however, available data show promising rates of treatment initiation and retention, potentially the most important metric amidst an increasingly dangerous drug supply.

    To read the full text of the article, please visit the publisher’s website.