First Semester College Experiences: Associations with Substance Use and Mental Health

Journal: Addictive Behaviors Reports, 2024, doi: 10.1016/j.abrep.2024.100552

Authors: Brooke J. Arterberry, Sarah J. Peterson, & Megan E. Patrick


Introduction: Substance use (SU) and mental health (MH) concerns often occur as students transition from high school to college and may be associated with first semester experiences.

Methods: Incoming first-year college students at a U.S., predominantly white, midwestern university were recruited for an intervention study. Participants reported on substance use, mental health, and college experiences at the end of their first semester of college (n = 781; 62.9 % female, mean age = 18.06 [SD = 0.24]; 77.2 % non-Hispanic white; 84.6 % heterosexual). Data for these current analyses were cross-sectional.

Results: Identifying as Black, Indigenous, or another Person of Color, as a sexual minority, or as female was associated with more challenging first semester experiences. Social experiences that represent more social engagement were associated with greater substance use. College experiences reflecting an easier transition were associated with fewer mental health concerns. Alcohol use moderated the relation between academic challenges and mental health with stronger associations found at greater levels of alcohol use.

Conclusions: First semester experiences were related to student mental health and substance use, suggesting the importance of early, targeted support for students to adjust to campus life.

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Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs and Prescription Pain Medication Misuse Among U.S. High School Students—2019

Journal: BMC Public Health, 2024, doi: 10.1186/s12889-024-18698-1

Authors: Kevin Liu, Marco Benedetti, Alexander Evans, & Motao Zhu


Background: Prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) are state-level databases that track and inform prescribing practices to reduce prescription drug diversion and misuse. To our knowledge, only three studies have examined the impact of PDMPs on opioid-related outcomes among adolescents, and none have focused on prescription pain medication misuse among adolescents.

Methods: This study leveraged data from the 2019 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) to explore the associations between five categories of PDMP dimensions and the prevalence of self-reported prescription pain medication misuse. Demographic factors’ associations with self-reported prescription pain medication misuse were also examined.

Results: In 2019, none of the PDMP dimensions were associated with self-reported prescription pain medication misuse among U.S. high school students, adjusting for gender, grade, race/ethnicity, and sexual orientation.

Conclusions: None of the five PDMP dimensions were associated with lower prescription pain medication misuse, however further research is needed, especially as new YRBS data become available.

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Long-Term Effects of Alcohol Consumption on Anxiety in Adults: A Systematic Review

Journal: Addictive Behaviors, 2024, doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2024.108047

Authors: Simon D’Aquino, Akaash Kumar, Benjamin Riordan, & Sarah Callinan


Objective: Despite the high prevalence and comorbidity of alcohol consumption and anxiety, it is unclear whether alcohol consumption influences long-term anxiety. This study aimed to systematically review the literature on the long-term longitudinal effects of alcohol consumption on anxiety in adults.

Methods: EMBASE, PsychInfo, Medline, and Web of Science databases were systematically searched from inception to April 12th, 2024. Articles analysing the relationship between alcohol consumption and anxiety symptoms or anxiety disorder diagnosis at least three-months later in adults were eligible. Articles were screened and extracted by two independent reviewers with study quality assessed using the Mixed Methods Appraisal Tool.

Results: From 884 records, eight studies of mixed quality met inclusion criteria. One study using a sample representative of the USA population found low volume consumption was associated with lower long-term anxiety. All other studies used a convenience sample or a specific medical population sample. The significance and direction of the relationship between alcohol consumption and long-term anxiety in these studies varied, likely due to differences in alcohol consumption thresholds used and populations studied.

Conclusions: A paucity of research on the longitudinal effects of alcohol consumption on anxiety was found, highlighting a significant gap in the research literature. Furthermore, existing research, primarily focussed on clinical subpopulations, has yielded mixed results. Further research is needed to explore the longitudinal dose dependent impact of alcohol consumption on anxiety using samples representative of national populations.

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Foster Care and Health in Medicaid-Enrolled Children Experiencing Parental Opioid Use Disorder

Journal: JAMA Network Open, 2024, doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2024.10432

Authors: Angélica Meinhofer, Nisha Chandra, Desislava Byanova, & Katherine M. Keyes


Importance: The burden of the US opioid crisis has fallen heavily on children, a vulnerable population increasingly exposed to parental opioid use disorder (POUD) in utero or during childhood. A paucity of studies have investigated foster care involvement among those experiencing parental opioid use during childhood and the associated health and health care outcomes.

Objective: To examine the health and health care outcomes of children experiencing POUD with and without foster care involvement.

Design, setting, and participants: This population-based cohort study used nationwide Medicaid claims data from January 1, 2014, to December 31, 2020. Participants included Medicaid-enrolled children experiencing parental opioid use-related disorder during ages 4 to 18 years. Data were analyzed between January 2023 and February 2024.

Exposure: Person-years with (exposed) and without (nonexposed) foster care involvement, identified using Medicaid eligibility, procedure, and diagnostic codes.

Main outcomes and measures: The main outcomes included physical and mental health conditions, developmental disorders, substance use, and health care utilization. The Pearson χ2 test, the t test, and linear regression were used to compare outcomes in person-years with (exposed) and without (nonexposed) foster care involvement. An event study design was used to examine health care utilization patterns before and after foster care involvement.

Results: In a longitudinal sample of 8 939 666 person-years from 1 985 180 Medicaid-enrolled children, 49% of children were females and 51% were males. Their mean (SD) age was 10 (4.2) years. The prevalence of foster care involvement was 3% (276 456 person-years), increasing from 1.5% in 2014 to 4.7% in 2020. Compared with those without foster care involvement (8 663 210 person-years), foster care involvement was associated with a higher prevalence of developmental delays (12% vs 7%), depression (10% vs 4%), trauma and stress (35% vs 7%), and substance use-related disorders (4% vs 1%; P < .001 for all). Foster children had higher rates of health care utilization across a wide array of preventive services, including well-child visits (64% vs 44%) and immunizations (41% vs 31%; P < .001 for all). Health care utilization increased sharply in the first year entering foster care but decreased as children exited care.

Conclusions and relevance: In this cohort study of Medicaid-enrolled children experiencing parental opioid use-related disorder, foster care involvement increased significantly between 2014 and 2020. Involvement was associated with increased rates of adverse health outcomes and health care utilization. These findings underscore the importance of policies that support children and families affected by opioid use disorder, as well as the systems that serve them.

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In Flux: Associations of Substance Use with Instability in Housing, Employment, and Income Among Young Adults Experiencing Homelessness

Journal: PLoS One, 2024, doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0303439

Authors: Rupa Jose, Elizabeth J. D’Amico, David J. Klein, Anthony Rodriguez, Eric R. Pedersen, & Joan S. Tucker


Young adults experiencing homelessness (YAEH) are faced with instabilities in many areas of their lives, including their living situation, employment, and income. Little is known about how the experience of instability in these different domains might be associated with substance use. Leveraging data collected on 276 YAEH in Los Angeles County, regression analyses examine associations between three distinct types of instability (housing, employment, income) and participants’ self-reported alcohol use, alcohol consequences, non-cannabis drug use, and substance use symptoms. Results indicated that recent instability in income, employment, and secure housing for those with access to it (but not housing in general or non-secure housing) were significantly associated with greater alcohol/drug use or substance use symptoms. Depression was also found to moderate the association between employment instability and alcohol use. Our findings suggest that efforts to reduce instability in income, employment, and secure housing may have positive benefits for substance using YAEH, especially those with depressive symptoms.

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