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    Research News Roundup: May 9, 2024

    Delay Discounting is Associated with Addiction and Mental Health Measures While Controlling for Health Behaviors and Health Barriers in a Large US Sample

    Journal: Addictive Behaviors Reports, 2024, doi: 10.1016/j.abrep.2024.100545

    Authors: Jeremiah M. Brown, Michael Sofis, Sara Zimmer, & Brent A. Kaplan


    Background: Excessive discounting of future rewards [delay discounting (DD)] may be a transdiagnostic process and treatment target underlying behavioral health outcomes, including trauma, depression, anxiety, and problematic substance use. However, multiple health behaviors and barriers are also related to these outcomes, including social media usage, adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), sleep quality, healthcare access, housing status, and exercise. To extend research examining DD as transdiagnostic process, we recruited a large, heterogenous sample to examine the association between DD, problematic substance use, and mental health outcomes while controlling for certain health behaviors and health barriers.

    Method: In a cross-sectional online survey of 3992 US residents, we administered validated measures of PTSD, depression, anxiety, and problematic alcohol, stimulant, and opioid use. Using linear or ordinal logistic models, scores for each outcome were regressed onto DD while controlling for demographics, health behaviors, and health barriers.

    Results: Including only DD and demographics, DD was associated with each outcome at low effect sizes (ƒ2 = .013, OR range = 1.08-1.16). Except for opioid ASSIST scores, these relationships held when controlling for social media usage, sleep, housing status, healthcare access, ACEs, physical exercise, and demographic variables (ƒ2 = .002, OR range = 1.03-1.12), increasing confidence that DD concurrently and directly relates to four of these five clinical outcomes.

    Discussion: These findings support the conceptualization of DD as a transdiagnostic process underlying certain psychopathologies and suggest targeting DD in co-occurring substance use disorder and/or mental health treatments may result in clinically significant outcomes.

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

    Neural Correlates of Increased Alcohol Demand Following Alcohol Cue Exposure in Adult Heavy Drinkers

    Journal: Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, 2024, doi: 10.1016/j.pscychresns.2024.111809

    Authors: Michael Amlung, Emma Marsden, Tegan Hargreaves, Lawrence H. Sweet, James G. Murphy, & James MacKillop


    Alcohol use disorder is associated with overvaluation of alcohol relative to other rewards, in part due to dynamic increases in value in response to alcohol-related cues. In a neuroeconomic framework, alcohol cues increase behavioral economic demand for alcohol, but the neural correlates these cue effects are unknown. This functional magnetic resonance imaging study combined a neuroeconomic alcohol purchase task with an alcohol cue exposure in 72 heavy drinkers with established sensitivity to alcohol cues (51 % female; mean age=33.74). Participants reported how many drinks they would consume from $0-$80/drink following exposure to neutral and alcohol images in a fixed order. Participants purchased significantly more drinks in the alcohol compared to the neutral condition, which was also evident for demand indices (i.e., intensity, breakpoint, Omax, elasticity; ps<0.001; ds=0.46-0.92). Alcohol purchase decisions were associated with activation in rostral middle and medial frontal gyri, anterior insula, posterior parietal cortex, and dorsal striatum, among other regions. Activation was lower across regions in the alcohol relative to neutral cue condition, potentially due to greater automaticity of choices in the presence of alcohol cues or attenuation of responses due to fixed cue order. These results contribute to growing literature using neuroeconomics to understand alcohol misuse and provide a foundation for future research investigating decision-making effects of environmental alcohol triggers.

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

    Trauma Exposure Across the Lifespan among Individuals Engaged in Treatment with Medication for Opioid Use Disorder: Differences by Gender, PTSD Status, and Chronic Pain

    Journal: Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy, 2024, doi: 10.1186/s13011-024-00608-8

    Authors: Monique N. Rodríguez, Dana D. Colgan, Sarah Leyde, Kenneth Pike, Joseph O. Merrill, & Cynthia J. Price


    Background: There is little study of lifetime trauma exposure among individuals engaged in medication treatment for opioid use disorder (MOUD). A multisite study provided the opportunity to examine the prevalence of lifetime trauma and differences by gender, PTSD status, and chronic pain.

    Methods: A cross-sectional study examined baseline data from participants (N = 303) enrolled in a randomized controlled trial of a mind-body intervention as an adjunct to MOUD. All participants were stabilized on MOUD. Measures included the Trauma Life Events Questionnaire (TLEQ), the Brief Pain Inventory (BPI), and the Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Checklist (PCL-5). Analyses involved descriptive statistics, independent sample t-tests, and linear and logistic regression.

    Results: Participants were self-identified as women (n = 157), men (n = 144), and non-binary (n = 2). Fifty-seven percent (n = 172) self-reported chronic pain, and 41% (n = 124) scored above the screening cut-off for PTSD. Women reported significantly more intimate partner violence (85%) vs 73%) and adult sexual assault (57% vs 13%), while men reported more physical assault (81% vs 61%) and witnessing trauma (66% vs 48%). Men and women experienced substantial childhood physical abuse, witnessed intimate partner violence as children, and reported an equivalent exposure to accidents as adults. The number of traumatic events predicted PTSD symptom severity and PTSD diagnostic status. Participants with chronic pain, compared to those without chronic pain, had significantly more traumatic events in childhood (85% vs 75%).

    Conclusion: The study found a high prevalence of lifetime trauma among people in MOUD. Results highlight the need for comprehensive assessment and mental health services to address trauma among those in MOUD treatment.

    Trial registration: NCT04082637.

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

    People who Use Drugs Engagement in Substance Use Disorder Services and Harm Reduction: Evaluation, Challenges and Future Direction of a Community-Based Intervention

    Journal: Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy, 2024, doi: 10.1186/s13011-024-00601-1

    Authors: Julie Gleason-Comstock, Cindy Bolden Calhoun, Barbara J. Locke, Naga Vijaya Lakshmi Divya Boorle, Kevin Cobty, Tiffany McKenney, Kaji O. Uddin, … Jinping Xu


    Background: Since 1996, an urban community-based organization whose primary mission is to serve diverse94 and emerging community health needs has provided screening, testing, overdose prevention and training, referrals, and access to treatment for substance use disorders (SUD) and communicable diseases such as HIV through its Life Points harm reduction program.

    Methods: As a partner in a State survey in 2021, the community organization recruited a convenience sample of people who use drugs to participate in a survey focused on their substance use, healthcare, and barriers to SUD services. Community health workers conducted outreach and used an encrypted identifier to collect data from a convenience sample of harm reduction participants regarding demographics, legal justice, engagement in harm reduction and access to healthcare. Evaluators entered paper surveys into Qualtrics for reporting and summative analysis.

    Results: A convenience sample of fifty-five people who use drugs were recruited and surveyed. The majority (86%, n = 47) were active participants in the agency Life Points (LP) harm reduction service. Participants’ average age was 42.9 years (SD = 11.5). About half (51%, n = 28) were male, 48% (n = 26) were female, and 2% (n = 1) was transgender. About two-thirds (67%, n = 37) of participants were White/Caucasian, 13% (n = 7) were Black/African-American, 11% (n = 6) were Hispanic and 7% (n = 4) were Multi-Racial. Regarding current substance use, 98% (n = 54) reported use of heroin, 51% (n = 28) reported crack, 47% (n = 26) cocaine, 25% (n = 14) alcohol, 24% (n = 13) opioids, and 15% (n = 8) marijuana. The majority, 87% (n = 48) said they had health care insurance and over two-thirds (69%, n = 37) said they had been arrested for a felony. Almost three quarters (71%, n = 39) reported receiving services from the Department of Health & Human Services. A higher percentage of females compared to males (65% and 29% respectively) reported engagement in community mental health services and 69% of females (n = 18) compared to 15% (n = 4) of males reported needing to participate in sex to meet basic social needs. Participants described social determinants of health as barriers to services, including access to food, legal justice and transportation. About 44% (n = 24) said they would consider enrolling in a drug treatment program in the next 30 days.

    Conclusion: This sample was reflective of increased participation by White participants that began to appear about a decade ago. The majority of participants reported having healthcare insurance, which may be reflective of engagement with community health workers to access appropriate services. Community organizations and healthcare professionals should continue to explore social determinants of health that can impact the health of people who use drugs, including overcoming barriers to health care access such as investing in mobile unit outreach.

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

    Transitioning Virtual-Only Group Therapy for Substance Use Disorder Patients to a Hybrid Model

    Journal: Substance Abuse and Rehabilitation, 2024, doi: 10.2147/SAR.S460024

    Authors: Tyler S. Oesterle, Nicholas L. Bormann, Domenic A. Ochal, Stephan Arndt, & Scott A. Breitinger


    Purpose: Telehealth is associated with a myriad of benefits; however, little is known regarding substance use disorder (SUD) treatment outcomes when participants join group therapy sessions in a combination in-person and virtual setting (hybrid model). We sought to determine if treatment completion rates differed.

    Patients and methods: Policy changes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic created a naturalistic, observational cohort study at seven intensive outpatient (IOP) programs in rural Minnesota. Virtual-only delivery occurred 6/1/2020-6/30/2021, while hybrid groups occurred 7/1/2021-7/31/2022. Data was evaluated retrospectively for participants who initiated and discharged treatment during the study period. Participants were IOP group members 18 years and older who had a SUD diagnosis that both entered and discharged treatment during the 26-month period. A consecutive sample of 1502 participants (181-255 per site) was available, with 644 removed: 576 discharged after the study conclusion, 49 were missing either enrollment or discharge data, 14 transferred sites during treatment, and 5 initiated treatment before the study initiation. Helmert contrasts evaluated the impact of hybrid group exposure.

    Results: A total of 858 individuals were included. Data was not from the medical chart and was deidentified preventing specific demographics; however, the overall IOP sample for 2020-2022, from which the sample was derived, was 29.8% female, and 64.1% were 18-40 years of age. For completed treatment, hybrid group exposure relative to virtual-only had a univariate odds ratio of 1.88 (95% CI: 1.50-2.41, p < 0.001). No significant difference was seen across IOP sites.

    Conclusion: These results describe a novel hybrid group approach to virtual care for SUDs with outcome data not previously documented in the literature. While virtual treatment delivery can increase access, these results suggest a benefit is derived from including an in-person option. Further research is needed to identify how an in-person component may change dynamics and if it can be replicated in virtual-only models.

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


    May 2024