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    Research News Roundup: February 29, 2024

    Development and Initial Testing of Mindful Journey: A Digital Mindfulness-Based Intervention for Promoting Recovery from Substance Use Disorder

    Journal: Annals of Medicine, 2024, doi: 10.1080/07853890.2024.2315228

    Authors: Corey R. Roos, Brian Kiluk, Kathleen M. Carroll, Jonathan B. Bricker, Chung Jung Mun, Margarita Sala, Megan Kirouac, … Hedy Kober


    Background/objectives: There is a great unmet need for accessible adjunctive interventions to promote long-term recovery from substance use disorder (SUD). This study aimed to iteratively develop and test the initial feasibility and acceptability of Mindful Journey, a novel digital mindfulness-based intervention for promoting recovery among individuals with SUD.

    Patients/materials: Ten adults receiving outpatient treatment for SUD.

    Methods: Phase 1 (n = 5) involved developing and testing a single introductory digital lesson. Phase 2 included a separate sample (n = 5) and involved testing all 15 digital lessons (each 30- to 45-minutes) over a 6-week period, while also receiving weekly brief phone coaching for motivational/technical support.

    Results: Across both phases, quantitative ratings (rated on a 5-point scale) were all at or above a 4 (corresponding with ‘agree’) for key acceptability dimensions, such as usability, understandability, appeal of visual content, how engaging the content was, and helpfulness for recovery. Additionally, in both phases, qualitative feedback indicated that participants particularly appreciated the BOAT (Breath, Observe, Accept, Take a Moment) tool for breaking down mindfulness into steps. Qualitative feedback was used to iteratively refine the intervention. For example, based on feedback, we added a second core mindfulness tool, the SOAK (Stop, Observe, Appreciate, Keep Curious), and we added more example clients and group therapy videos. In Phase 2, 4 out of 5 participants completed all 15 lessons, providing initial evidence of feasibility. Participants reported that the phone coaching motivated them to use the app. The final version of Mindful Journey was a smartphone app with additional features, including brief on-the-go audio exercises and a library of mindfulness practices. Although, participants used these additional features infrequently.

    Conclusions: Based on promising initial findings, future acceptability and feasibility testing in a larger sample is warranted. Future versions might include push notifications to facilitate engagement in the additional app features.

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

    Recreational and Medical Cannabis Legalization and Opioid Prescriptions and Mortality

    Journal: JAMA Health Forum, 2024, doi: 10.1001/jamahealthforum.2023.4897

    Authors: Hai V. Nguyen, Emma E. McGinty, Shweta Mital, & G. Caleb Alexander


    Importance: While some have argued that cannabis legalization has helped to reduce opioid-related morbidity and mortality in the US, evidence has been mixed. Moreover, existing studies did not account for biases that could arise when policy effects vary over time or across states or when multiple policies are assessed at the same time, as in the case of recreational and medical cannabis legalization.

    Objective: To quantify changes in opioid prescriptions and opioid overdose deaths associated with recreational and medical cannabis legalization in the US.

    Design, setting, and participants: This quasi experimental, generalized difference-in-differences analysis used annual state-level data between January 2006 and December 2020 to compare states that legalized recreational or medical cannabis vs those that did not.

    Intervention: Recreational and medical cannabis law implementation (proxied by recreational and medical cannabis dispensary openings) between 2006 and 2020 across US states.

    Main outcomes and measures: Opioid prescription rates per 100 persons and opioid overdose deaths per 100 000 population based on data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    Results: Between 2006 and 2020, 13 states legalized recreational cannabis and 23 states legalized medical cannabis. There was no statistically significant association of recreational or medical cannabis laws with opioid prescriptions or overall opioid overdose mortality across the 15-year study period, although the results also suggested a potential reduction in synthetic opioid deaths associated with recreational cannabis laws (4.9 fewer deaths per 100 000 population; 95% CI, -9.49 to -0.30; P = .04). Sensitivity analyses excluding state economic indicators, accounting for additional opioid laws and using alternative ways to code treatment dates yielded substantively similar results, suggesting the absence of statistically significant associations between cannabis laws and the outcomes of interest during the full study period.

    Conclusions and relevance: The results of this study suggest that, after accounting for biases due to possible heterogeneous effects and simultaneous assessment of recreational and medical cannabis legalization, the implementation of recreational or medical cannabis laws was not associated with opioid prescriptions or opioid mortality, with the exception of a possible reduction in synthetic opioid deaths associated with recreational cannabis law implementation.

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

    Dual and Poly-Nicotine and Tobacco Use among Adolescents in the United States from 2011 to 2022

    Journal: Addictive Behaviors, 2024,

    Authors: Baihui Y. Zhang, Olivia S. Bannon, Daniel Tzu-Hsuan Chen, & Filippos T. Filippidis


    Background: Adolescent nicotine and tobacco product use remains common despite declining smoking rates in the United States, likely due to the emergence of novel products. Concurrent use of multiple products may increase the risk of nicotine dependency and subsequent substance use.

    Aim: To identify patterns and trends of dual and poly nicotine and tobacco use among adolescents in the US and explore associations of dual and poly nicotine and tobacco use with sociodemographic factors.

    Methods: 12 years of annual National Youth Tobacco Survey data (2011–2022) from 242,637 respondents were used to examine prevalence trends of different combinations of nicotine or tobacco product use among adolescents in the US using weighted point estimates for each year. Poisson regression models examined sociodemographic factors associated with different patterns of dual and poly-product use from 2011 to 2022.

    Results: Overall, the prevalence of dual (i.e. at least two products) and poly (i.e. at least three products) use decreased between 2011 and 2021 (from 9.5 % to 2.8 % and from 5.1 % to 1.1 %, respectively), but showed signs of increase between 2021 and 2022 (3.7 % for dual and 1.7 % for poly use). The most common combinations included a combustible product with either a novel or noncombustible product. The risk for dual and poly-product use was higher among non-Hispanic Whites, males, and high school students.

    Conclusions: Previously declining trends in the prevalence of tobacco/nicotine dual and poly use may have been reversed. Close monitoring and targeted tobacco control policies are essential to tackle multiple product use among adolescents.

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

    Cannabis Use, Decision Making, and Perceptions of Risk among Breastfeeding Individuals: The Lactation and Cannabis (LAC) Study

    Journal: Journal of Cannabis Research, 2024, doi: 10.1186/s42238-023-00212-w

    Authors: Caroline B. Smith, Jenna Schmidt, Elizabeth A. Holdsworth, Beatrice Caffé, Olivia Brooks, Janet E. Williams, David R. Gang, … Courtney L. Meehan


    Objective: Our primary objective was to understand breastfeeding individuals’ decisions to use cannabis. Specifically, we investigated reasons for cannabis use, experiences with healthcare providers regarding use, and potential concerns about cannabis use.

    Methods: We collected survey data from twenty breastfeeding participants from Washington and Oregon who used cannabis at least once weekly. We documented individuals’ cannabis use and analyzed factors associated with their decisions to use cannabis during lactation. Qualitative description was used to assess responses to an open-ended question about potential concerns.

    Results: Fifty-five percent of participants (n = 11) reported using cannabis to treat or manage health conditions, mostly related to mental health. Eighty percent of participants (n = 16) reported very few or no concerns about using cannabis while breastfeeding, although participants who used cannabis for medical purposes had significantly more concerns. Most participants (n = 18, 90%) reported receiving either no or unhelpful advice from healthcare providers. Four themes arose through qualitative analysis, indicating that breastfeeding individuals are: 1) identifying research gaps and collecting evidence; 2) monitoring their child’s health and development; 3) monitoring and titrating their cannabis use; and 4) comparing risks between cannabis and other controlled substances.

    Conclusions: Breastfeeding individuals reported cannabis for medical and non-medical reasons and few had concerns about cannabis use during breastfeeding. Breastfeeding individuals reported using a variety of strategies and resources in their assessment of risk or lack thereof when deciding to use cannabis. Most participants reported receiving no helpful guidance from healthcare providers.

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

    Loneliness and Fearfulness are Associated with Non-Fatal Drug Overdose among People who Inject Drugs

    Journal: PLoS One, 2024, doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0297209

    Authors: Oluwaseun Falade-Nwulia, Kathleen Ward, Karla D. Wagner, Hamidreza Karimi-Sari, Jeffrey Hsu, Mark Sulkowski, Carl Latkin, … Evaristus Nwulia


    Background: People who inject drugs (PWID) experience high rates of drug overdose death with the risk of mortality increasing after each non-fatal event. Racial differences exist in drug overdose rates, with higher rates among Black people who use drugs. Psychological factors may predict drug overdose.

    Methods: Cross-sectional data from a survey administered to PWID in Baltimore, MD enrolled in a social network-based intervention were analyzed. Linear regression methods with generalized estimating equations were used to analyze data from indexes and network members to assess for psychological factors significantly associated with self-reported number of lifetime drug overdoses. Factors associated with number of overdoses were assessed separately by race.

    Results: Among 111 PWID enrolled between January 2018 and January 2019, 25.2% were female, 65.7% were Black, 98.2% reported use of substances in addition to opioids, and the mean age was 49.0 ± 8.3 years. Seventy-five individuals (67.6%) had a history of any overdose with a mean of 5.0 ± 9.7 lifetime overdoses reported. Reports of feeling fearful (β = 9.74, P = 0.001) or feeling lonely all of the time (β = 5.62, P = 0.033) were independently associated with number of drug overdoses. In analyses disaggregated by race, only the most severe degree of fearfulness or loneliness was associated with overdose among Black participants, whereas among White participants, any degree of fearfulness or loneliness was associated with overdose.

    Conclusions: In this study of PWID loneliness and fearfulness were significantly related to the number of reported overdose events. These factors could be targeted in future interventions.

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


    February 2024