Research News Roundup: May 12, 2022

    Associations between Classic Psychedelics and Opioid Use Disorder in a Nationally-Representative U.S. Adult Sample

    Journal: Scientific Reports, 2022, doi: 10.1038/s41598-022-08085-4

    Authors: Grant Jones, Jocelyn A. Ricard, Joshua Lipson & Matthew K. Nock


    Opioid use disorder (OUD) is a major source of morbidity and mortality in the U.S. and there is a pressing need to identify additional treatments for the disorder. Classic psychedelics (psilocybin, peyote, mescaline, LSD) have been linked to the alleviation of various substance use disorders and may hold promise as potential treatments for OUD. The aim of this study was to assess whether the aforementioned classic psychedelic substances conferred lowered odds of OUD. Furthermore, this study aimed to replicate and extend findings from Pisano et al. (2017) who found classic psychedelic use to be linked to lowered odds of OUD in a nationally representative sample. We used recent data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (2015–2019) (N = 214,505) and multivariable logistic regression to test whether lifetime use (yes/no) of classic psychedelics was associated with lowered odds of OUD. Lifetime psilocybin use was associated with lowered odds of OUD (aOR: 0.70; 95% CI [0.60, 0.83]). No other substances, including other classic psychedelics, were associated with lowered odds of OUD. Additionally, sensitivity analyses revealed psilocybin use to be associated with lowered odds of seven of the 11 DSM-IV criteria for OUD (aOR range: 0.66–0.83). Future clinical trials and longitudinal studies are needed to determine whether these associations are causal.

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

    Characteristics of Alcohol Recovery Narratives: Systematic Review and Narrative Synthesis

    Journal: PLoS One, 2022, doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0268034

    Authors: Mohsan Subhani, Usman Talat, Holly Knight, Joanne R. Morling, Katy A. Jones, Guruprasad P. Aithal, Stephen D. Ryder, Joy Llewellyn-Beardsley & Stefan Rennick-Egglestone


    Background and aims: Narratives of recovery from alcohol misuse have been analysed in a range of research studies. This paper aims to produce a conceptual framework describing the characteristics of alcohol misuse recovery narratives that are in the research literature, to inform the development of research, policy, and practice.

    Methods: Systematic review was conducted following PRISMA guidelines. Electronic searches of databases (Ovid MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINHAL, PsychInfo, AMED and SCOPUS), grey literature, and citation searches for included studies were conducted. Alcohol recovery narratives were defined as “first-person lived experience accounts, which includes elements of adversity, struggle, strength, success, and survival related to alcohol misuse, and refer to events or actions over a period of time”. Frameworks were synthesised using a three-stage process. Sub-group analyses were conducted on studies presenting analyses of narratives with specific genders, ages, sexualities, ethnicities, and dual diagnosis. The review was prospectively registered (PROSPERO CRD42021235176).

    Results: 32 studies were included (29 qualitative, 3 mixed-methods, 1055 participants, age range 17-82years, 52.6% male, 46.4% female). Most were conducted in the United States (n = 15) and Europe (n = 11). No included studies analysed recovery narratives from lower income countries. Treatment settings included Alcoholic Anonymous (n = 12 studies), other formal treatment, and ‘natural recovery’. Eight principle narrative dimensions were identified (genre, identity, recovery setting, drinking trajectory, drinking behaviours, stages, spirituality and religion, and recovery experience) each with types and subtypes. All dimensions were present in most subgroups. Shame was a prominent theme for female narrators, lack of sense of belonging and spirituality were prominent for LGBTQ+ narrators, and alienation and inequality were prominent for indigenous narrators.

    Conclusions: Review provides characteristics of alcohol recovery narratives, with implications for both research and healthcare practice. It demonstrated knowledge gaps in relation to alcohol recovery narratives of people living in lower income countries, or those who recovered outside of mainstream services.

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

    Areas of Convergence and Divergence in Adolescent Social Isolation and Binge Drinking: A Review

    Journal: Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, 2022, doi: 10.3389/fnbeh.2022.859239

    Authors: Jyoti Lodha, Emily Brocato & Jennifer T. Wolstenholme


    Adolescence is a critical developmental period characterized by enhanced social interactions, ongoing development of the frontal cortex and maturation of synaptic connections throughout the brain. Adolescents spend more time interacting with peers than any other age group and display heightened reward sensitivity, impulsivity and diminished inhibitory self-control, which contribute to increased risky behaviors, including the initiation and progression of alcohol use. Compared to adults, adolescents are less susceptible to the negative effects of ethanol, but are more susceptible to the negative effects of stress, particularly social stress. Juvenile exposure to social isolation or binge ethanol disrupts synaptic connections, dendritic spine morphology, and myelin remodeling in the frontal cortex. These structural effects may underlie the behavioral and cognitive deficits seen later in life, including social and memory deficits, increased anxiety-like behavior and risk for alcohol use disorders (AUD). Although the alcohol and social stress fields are actively investigating the mechanisms through which these effects occur, significant gaps in our understanding exist, particularly in the intersection of the two fields. This review will highlight the areas of convergence and divergence in the fields of adolescent social stress and ethanol exposure. We will focus on how ethanol exposure or social isolation stress can impact the development of the frontal cortex and lead to lasting behavioral changes in adulthood. We call attention to the need for more mechanistic studies and the inclusion of the evaluation of sex differences in these molecular, structural, and behavioral responses.

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


    Adolescent Substance Use: Findings from a State-wide Pilot Parent Education Program

    Journal: BMC Public Health, 2022, doi: 10.1186/s12889-022-12899-2

    Authors: Nayantara Nair, Alishia Elliott, Sarah Arnold, Andrew Flachs, Barbara Beaulieu & Kristine Marceau


    Background: Adolescent substance use has long been a top public health priority. In Indiana, concerning recent trends show high rates of youth alcohol consumption coupled with increasing use of opioids, synthetic marijuana, and over-the-counter drugs. Based on research indicating that parent-based prevention efforts may be a particularly effective way to target adolescent substance use, and in a direct effort to address Indiana’s 2017 Strategic Plan to Address Substance Use, we conducted an applied research study targeting parents’ knowledge regarding adolescent substance use in Indiana.

    Methods: This community-based applied research study included: (i) a needs assessment of Indiana Extension Educators’ concerns regarding adolescent substance use, (ii) creation and dissemination of an evidence-informed parent education program on adolescent substance use in collaboration with Purdue Extension (a key community stakeholder), and (iii) qualitative focus group discussions at the end of each program that assessed the challenges families face regarding adolescent substance use, the types of information and resources they wish they had, and the usefulness of our program.

    Results: The needs assessment revealed that Indiana communities would most benefit from education regarding ways to spot and monitor substance use in teens, and strategies to communicate with teens about substance use. Additionally, Extension Educators thought that existing resources to tackle substance use largely did not match the needs of Indiana communities. Qualitative analysis of the focus group discussions across 8 pilot programs revealed five important themes: (1) The need for current, evidence-informed information regarding adolescent substance use among parents and youth-involved professionals in Indiana, (2) Concern regarding Indiana adolescents’ ease of access to substances and lack of healthy recreational activities, (3) Communicating with teens about substance use is crucial but difficult to implement, (4) Indiana communities’ need to prioritize funding for evidence-informed prevention programming, and (5) The need for community-based parent and caregiver support groups.

    Conclusions: Overall, the program was well-received and participants indicated that there was a strong need for this programming in their communities, but suggested collaborating with schools or similar local community stakeholders to increase attendance. Findings from this pilot study can inform future community-based adolescent substance use prevention efforts state-wide.

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

    Impact of Prenatal Tobacco Smoking on Infant Telomere Length Trajectory and ADHD Symptoms at 18 Months: A Longitudinal Cohort Study

    Journal: BMC Medicine, 2022, doi: 10.1186/s12916-022-02340-1

    Authors: Meghan P. Howell, Christopher W. Jones, Cade A. Herman, Celia V. Mayne, Camilo Fernandez, Katherine P. Theall, Kyle C. Esteves & Stacy S. Drury


    Background: Prenatal maternal tobacco smoking is a predictor of child attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and is associated with offspring telomere length (TL). In this study, we examine the relationship between maternal prenatal smoking, infant TL, and maternal report of early childhood symptoms of ADHD.

    Methods: One-hundred and eighty-one mother-infant dyads were followed prospectively for the infant’s first 18 months of life. Prenatal smoking was assessed from maternal report and medical records. TL was measured from infant buccal swab DNA obtained across the first 18 months of life. ADHD symptoms were obtained from maternal report on the Child Behavior Check List. Multiple regression models tested the relation between prenatal smoking and both ADHD symptoms and infant TL. Additional analyses tested whether the change in infant TL influenced the relation between prenatal smoking and ADHD symptoms.

    Results: Sixteen percent of mothers reported prenatal smoking. Infant TL at 4, 12, and 18 months of age were correlated. Consistent with previous cross-sectional studies linking shorter offspring TL to maternal prenatal smoking, maternal prenatal smoking predicted greater telomere shortening from four to 18 months of infant age (β = − 5.797, 95% CI [-10.207, -1.386]; p = 0.010). Maternal depression was positively associated with both prenatal smoking (odds ratio (OR): 4.614, 95% CI [1.733, 12.282]; p = 0.002) and child ADHD symptoms (β = 4.713, 95% CI [2.073, 7.354]; p = 0.0006). To prevent confounding, analyses examined the relation between TL, ADHD symptoms, and prenatal smoking only in non-depressed mothers. In non-depressed mothers, infant TL attrition across the first 18 months moderated the relation between smoking and child ADHD.

    Conclusions: The findings extend previous studies linking prenatal smoking to shorter infant TL by providing data demonstrating the effect on TL trajectory. The relation between prenatal smoking and early infant ADHD symptoms was moderated by the change in TL. The findings provide novel initial evidence suggesting that TL dynamics are one mechanistic pathway influencing the relation between maternal prenatal smoking and ADHD.

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


    May 2022