Research News Roundup: November 11, 2021

    Neuropsychological Performance in Young Adults with Cannabis Use Disorder

    Journal: Journal of Psychopharmacology, 2021, doi: 10.1177/02698811211050548

    Authors: Ayla Selamoglu, Christelle Langley, Rebecca Crean, George Savulich, Francesca Cormack, Barbara J. Sahakian & Barbara Mason


    Background and Aims: Cannabis is a commonly used recreational drug in young adults. The worldwide prevalence in 18- to 25-year-olds is approximately 35%. Significant differences in cognitive performance have been reported previously for groups of cannabis users. However, the groups are often heterogeneous in terms of cannabis use. Here, we study daily cannabis users with a confirmed diagnosis of cannabis use disorder (CUD) to examine cognitive performance on measures of memory, executive function and risky decision-making.

    Methods: Forty young adult daily cannabis users with diagnosed CUD and 20 healthy controls matched for sex and premorbid intelligence quotient (IQ) were included. The neuropsychological battery implemented was designed to measure multiple modes of memory (visual, episodic and working memory), risky decision-making and other domains of executive function using subtests from the Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery (CANTAB).

    Results: Our results showed that young adult daily cannabis users with CUD perform significantly poorer on tasks of visual and episodic memory compared with healthy controls. In addition, executive functioning was associated with the age of onset.

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

    A Qualitative Examination of Substance Use Disorder Treatment-seeking among Women with Opioid Use Disorders: The Role of Syndemics and Structural Violence

    Journal: SSM – Qualitative Research in Health, 2021, doi: 10.1016/j.ssmqr.2021.100014

    Authors: Antoinette L. Spector, Katherine G. Quinn, Staci A. Young, Mallory O’Brien, Terri A. deRoon-Cassini & Julia Dickson-Gomez


    Women with opioid use disorders (WWOUD) experience disparities in access to substance use disorder (SUD) treatment, yet the reasons for these differences are unclear. Co-occurring social and structural factors may work synergistically to impede women’s treatment-seeking efforts. The current study explored the socio-structural context of SUD treatment-seeking among WWOUD. We used in-depth, semi-structured interviews with 56 women who had misused any opioid in the past year to address the study’s aims. Constructivist grounded theory principles were used to identify the socio-structural barriers to SUD treatment entry through the lens of syndemics and structural violence. Study results illustrate how WWOUD can encounter a host of mutually reinforcing negative conditions that are situated within the broader socio-structural context of social stigma, poverty, limited availability of SUD treatment options, and a punitive societal approach to drug use. Findings indicate a need to implement and expand structural interventions that address economic and housing insecurity and childcare needs. Strategies that move systems away from a punitive approach to drug use are also encouraged, in favor of supportive and cross-system collaborative approaches that can facilitate women’s access to SUD treatment services.

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

    The Impact of Paternal Alcohol, Tobacco, Caffeine Use and Physical Activity on Offspring Mental Health: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

    Journal: Reproductive Health, 2021, doi: 10.1186/s12978-021-01266-w

    Authors: Kayleigh E. Easey & Gemma C. Sharp


    Background: There is some evidence that paternal health behaviours during and around pregnancy could be associated with offspring health outcomes. However, the impact that paternal health behaviours during pregnancy can have on offspring mental health is understudied and remains unclear.

    Methods: We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of articles in PubMed describing studies of potentially modifiable paternal health behaviours (tobacco smoking, alcohol consumption, caffeine consumption and physical activity) in the prenatal period in relation to offspring mental health. GRADE was used to measure risk of bias.

    Results: Eight studies were included and categorized by paternal health behaviour and offspring mental health outcome investigated. The narrative synthesis provided evidence of association between paternal health behaviours around pregnancy and offspring mental health problems, with the strongest evidence shown for tobacco use. Grouped by analysis type, two separate meta-analyses showed evidence of paternal smoking during pregnancy being associated with greater odds of ADHD in offspring (OR 1.42, 95% CI 1.02–1.99; HR 1.28, 95% CI 1.19–1.39).

    Conclusions: The small number of studies that have investigated paternal prenatal effects on offspring mental health, and the limited sample sizes of those studies, makes it challenging to draw firm conclusions. Although existing studies suggest that paternal tobacco smoking and alcohol consumption in the prenatal period are associated with poorer offspring mental health, (particularly hyperactivity/ADHD), further investigation of potential paternal effects is required, using methods that allow stronger inference to determine whether associations are causal.

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

    Comparison of E-cigarette Use Prevalence and Frequency by Smoking Status among Youth in the United States, 2014–19

    Journal: Addiction, 2021, doi: 10.1111/add.15439

    Authors: Jamie Tam & Andrew F. Brouwer


    Background and aims: Reports of youth e-cigarette use often do not disaggregate by underlying smoking status. This study compared annual 2014–19 youth estimates of past 30-day e-cigarette use prevalence and frequency by smoking status in the United States.

    Design: Nationally representative, cross-sectional, school-based survey [National Youth Tobacco Surveys (NYTS)]. General linear models accounting for complex survey design compared e-cigarette use prevalence by smoking status by year, overall and stratified by frequency, separately for high school (HS) and middle school (MS) students. The 2019 survey was analyzed separately because of its change in survey methodology.

    Setting: MSs and HSs in the United States.

    Participants: A total of 116 704 students from 1268 schools, ages 9–19.

    Measurements: Students self-reported (paper 2014–18, electronic 2019) ever and past 30-day (current) use of e-cigarettes and cigarettes, as well as frequent use (20–30 days of month).

    Findings: From 2014 to 2018, current e-cigarette use prevalence increased among never, current and former smokers in HS, but only among never and current smokers in MS (each P-value < 0.001). E-cigarette use increases for current HS smokers were primarily among frequent e-cigarette users. In 2018, the absolute number of HS frequent users who were never or former smokers (420 000 combined) surpassed current smokers (370 000). In 2019, current e-cigarette use prevalence for never, former and current smokers was 17.5% [95% confidence interval (CI) = 16.0–19.0], 53.6% (95% CI = 45.2–61.9) and 85.8% (95% CI = 81.6–89.9) for HS students, respectively, and 6.8% (95% CI = 5.9–7.7), 40.8% (95% CI = 34.7–47.0) and 78.0% (95% CI = 71.9–84.2) for MS students. That year, the number of HS never (420 000) and former smokers (570 000) using e-cigarettes frequently eclipsed that of current smokers (390 000).

    Conclusions: E-cigarette use prevalence and frequency among youth vary by smoking status, with highest levels of use among current smokers. However frequent e-cigarette use among never smokers and former smokers has increased. Further research is required to determine whether worse performance in cognition results in cannabis use or is a consequence of cannabis use. Chronic heavy cannabis use during a critical period of brain development may have a particularly negative impact on cognition. Research into the persistence of cognitive differences and how they relate to functional outcomes such as academic/career performance is required.

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

    The Early Impact of COVID-19 on the Incidence, Prevalence, and Severity of Alcohol Use and other Drugs: A Systematic Review

    Journal: Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 2021, doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2021.109065

    Authors: Rose A. Schmidt, Rosalie Genois, Jonathan Jin, Daniel Vigo, Jürgen Rehm & Brian Rushabg


    Background: The aim of this paper was to examine the early impact of COVID-19 on substance use to assess implications for planning substance use treatment and support systems.

    Method: A systematic review of literature published up to March 2021 was conducted to summarize changes in prevalence, incidence, and severity of substance use associated with COVID-19 and the accompanying public health measures, including lockdown, stay-at-home orders, and social distancing.

    Results: We identified 53 papers describing changes to substance use at the population level. The majority of papers described changes related to alcohol use and most relied on self-reported measures of consumption during the COVID-19 pandemic, compared with pre-pandemic use. There was less evidence to support changes in non-alcohol substance use. In general, risky pre-pandemic alcohol use, caregiving responsibilities, stress, depression, anxiety, and current treatment for a mental disorder were found to be associated with increased substance use.

    Conclusion: This review provides preliminary data on changes in substance use, indicating that certain segments of the population increased their alcohol use early on in the COVID-19 pandemic and may be at greater risk of harm and in need of additional services. There is a need for additional population-level information on substance use to inform evidence-based rapid responses from a treatment system perspective.

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


    November 2021