Research News Roundup: April 28, 2022

    Promoting Sustainable Responses to the US Opioid Epidemic with Community-Academic Partnerships: Qualitative Outcomes from a Statewide Program

    Journal: Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy, 2022, doi: 10.1186/s13011-022-00454-6

    Authors: David L. Driscoll, Alison Evans Cuellar, Vinod Agarwal, Debra Jones, Mary Beth Dunkenberger & Kathy Hosig


    Background: Drug overdose deaths in the United States have continued to increase at an alarming rate. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) distributed more than $7 billion between January 2016 and June 2020 to address the drug overdose crisis. The funds support evidence-based responses, including medications for opioid use disorder, and other prevention, treatment and recovery activities. Although the State Opioid Response (SOR) grants finance much-needed community level interventions, many of the services they support may not be sustainable, without ongoing assessment, evaluation and planning for continuation.

    Methods: This paper describes a statewide effort to support local entities through SAMHSA’s SOR grants in Virginia. Community agencies across the state participated in detailed needs assessment exercises with VHEOC investigators, and developed requests for proposals (RFPs) to sustain their SOR programs. The RFPs were then distributed to prospective academic partners at the five VHEOC universities, based on the required subject matter expertise identified in the RFP. All responsive proposals were then provided to the local agencies who selected the proposal most likely to meet their needs. VHEOC investigators also conducted an inductive, three-phase content analysis approach to examine the RFPs submitted to the VHEOC to identify nominal categories of support requested of the VHEOC investigators.

    Results: VHEOC Investigators received and coded 27 RFPs from ten community agencies representing four of five regions of the state. We identified six nominal categories of academic assistance with high inter-coder agreement. The six categories of support requested of the academic partners were program development and support, literature review and best practices, outreach and education, data analysis and interpretation, program evaluation, and grant writing assistance. Several RFPs requested up to three categories of support in a single project.

    Conclusions: Our analysis of the requests received by the consortium identified several categories of academic support for SOR-grantees addressing the drug overdose crisis. The most common requests related to development and maintenance of supportive collaborations, which existing research has demonstrated is necessary for the long-term sustainability of SOR-funded services. In this way, the academic partners reinforced sustainable SOR-funded programs. As the state opioid response program is implemented nationally, we hope that other states will consider similar models in response to the opioid crisis.

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

    Relationships of Cannabis Policy Liberalization with Alcohol Use and Co-Use with Cannabis: A Narrative Review

    Journal: Alcohol Research: Current Reviews (ARCR), 2022, doi: 10.35946/arcr.v42.1.06

    Authors: Rosalie Liccardo Pacula, Rosanna Smart, Marlene C. Lira, Seema Choksy Pessar, Jason G. Blanchette & Timothy S. Naimi


    Purpose: The liberalization of cannabis policies has the potential to affect the use of other substances and the harms from using them, particularly alcohol. Although a previous review of this literature found conflicting results regarding the relationship between cannabis policy and alcohol-related outcomes, cannabis policies have continued to evolve rapidly in the years since that review.

    Search Methods: The authors conducted a narrative review of studies published between January 1, 2015, and December 31, 2020, that assessed the effects of cannabis policies on the use of alcohol in the United States or Canada.

    Search Results: The initial search identified 3,446 unique monographs. Of these, 23 met all inclusion criteria and were included in the review, and five captured simultaneous or concurrent use of alcohol and cannabis.

    Discussion and Conclusions: Associations between cannabis policy liberalization and alcohol use, alcohol-related outcomes, and the co-use of alcohol and cannabis were inconclusive, with studies finding positive associations, no associations, and negative associations. Although several studies found that cannabis policy liberalization was associated with decreases in alcohol use measures, these same studies showed no impact of the cannabis policy on cannabis use itself. The lack of a consistent association was robust to subject age, outcome measure (e.g., use, medical utilization, driving), and type of cannabis policy; however, this may be due to the small number of studies for each type of outcome. This paper discusses several notable limitations of the evidence base and offers suggestions for improving consistency and comparability of research going forward, including a stronger classification of cannabis policy, inclusion of measures of the alcohol policy environment, verification of the impact of cannabis policy on cannabis use, and consideration of mediation effects.

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

    Transition to Telehealth: Challenges and Benefits of Conducting Group-Based Smoking and Alcohol Treatment Virtually

    Journal: Contemporary Clinical Trials, 2022, doi: 10.1016/j.cct.2022.106689.

    Authors: Christine Vinci, Mikaela Hemenway, Sana S. Baban, Min-Jeong Yang, Karen O. Brandon, Katie Witkiewitz, Marina Unrod, Thomas H. Brandon, David W. Wetter & Steven K. Sutton


    In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, many research and clinical teams have transitioned their projects to a remote-based format, weighing the pros and cons of making such a potentially disruptive decision. One key aspect of this decision is related to the patient population, with underserved populations possibly benefiting from the increased reach of telehealth, while also encountering technology barriers that may limit accessibility. Early in the pandemic, our team shifted a group-based, smoking cessation and alcohol modification treatment trial to a remote-based format. Our population included individuals who concurrently wanted to quit smoking and modify their alcohol use. This paper describes technical and logistical considerations of transitioning from in-person to remote-based delivery for group-based treatment, including the impact upon study staff, group facilitators, participants, and the institution. Remotely-delivered group treatment may be valuable not only in response to pandemic-related restrictions, but it may also offer an alternative treatment-delivery modality with independent benefits in terms of population reach, costs, and pragmatics for clients, staff, and institutions.

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

    Age of Initiation of Smokeless Tobacco Use Among Young Adults: Findings from the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) Study, 2013–2017

    Journal: Tobacco Prevention & Cessation, 2022, doi:10.18332/tpc/146130

    Authors: Adriana Pérez, Arnold E. Kuk, Meagan A. Bluestein, Baojiang Chen & Melissa B. Harrell


    Introduction: Smokeless tobacco (SLT) use, across all age groups, is most prevalent among young adults in the US. A study estimating the age of initiation of SLT use among young adults is needed amid the changing landscape of tobacco products.

    Methods: Secondary analyses of PATH young adults across waves 1–4 were conducted. A total of 10595 young adults who were never SLT users at their first wave of adult participation in PATH (waves 1–3) were included in the analysis. Age of initiation outcomes of ever, past 30-day, and fairly regular SLT use, were assessed prospectively in waves 2–4. Interval censoring Cox regression models were used to assess differences in the age of initiation of each outcome by sex and race/ethnicity, adjusting for other tobacco product use.

    Results: By the age of 27 years, 4.9%, 3.0%, and 1.9% of young adults reported initiating ever, past 30-day, and fairly regular SLT use, respectively. After controlling for demographic factors and other tobacco use, males initiated each of the SLT outcomes at earlier ages than females; non-Hispanic Blacks initiated each of the SLT use at later ages than non-Hispanic Whites; and Hispanic and non-Hispanic others initiated ever use at later ages than non-Hispanic Whites.

    Conclusions: These data suggest that three young adult groups are more likely to initiate use of SLT at earlier ages: males, non-Hispanic Whites, and poly-tobacco users. Knowing the age of SLT initiation outcomes among young adults will educate the public domain, inform SLT use prevention campaigns, and provide a baseline to measure the success of the Tobacco 21 legislation from December 2019.

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

    Public Health Implications of Cannabis Legalization: An Exploration of Adolescent Use and Evidence-Based Interventions

    Journal: International Journal of Environmental Research & Public Health, 2022, doi: 10.3390/ijerph19063336

    Authors: Joseph Donnelly, Michael Young, Brenda Marshall, Michael L. Hecht & Elena Saldutti


    This article examines the relaxation of state marijuana laws, changes in adolescent use of marijuana, and implications for drug education. Under federal law, use of marijuana remains illegal. In spite of this federal legislation, as of 1 June 2021, 36 states, four territories and the District of Columbia have enacted medical marijuana laws. There are 17 states, two territories and the District of Columbia that have also passed recreational marijuana laws. One of the concerns regarding the enactment of legislation that has increased access to marijuana is the possibility of increased adolescent use of marijuana. While there are documented benefits of marijuana use for certain medical conditions, we know that marijuana use by young people can interfere with brain development, so increased marijuana use by adolescents raises legitimate health concerns. A review of results from national survey data, including CDC’s YRBS, Monitoring the Future, and the National Household Survey on Drug Use, allows us to document changes in marijuana use over time. Increased legal access to marijuana also has implications for educational programming. A “Reefer Madness” type educational approach no longer works (if it ever did). We explore various strategies, including prevention programs for education about marijuana, and make recommendations for health educators.

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


    April 2022