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Collegiate Substance Use: A Tale of Differential Risk and Coping

Previous research reports around one third of college students trying an illicit drug other than marijuana with higher prevalence among college students than non-collegiate peers. It is also known that changes in emotion regulation (ER) occur in young adulthood. The current study aims to build on these findings to examine mental health outcomes predicted by ER across substance use categories.

The sample for this study included 229 participants reporting substance us for past 7 and 30 days use. The study required participants to complete a single, anonymous survey that lasted around 30 minutes. Difficulties in emotion regulation-short form was measured to assess participants ability to regulate emotions. Depression anxiety stress scale measured student’s emotion states of depression, anxiety, and stress. Mindfulness was measured to assess tendencies to be mindful in daily life. Substance use was assessed by asking about substance use in the past 7 and 30 days. Participants who reported alcohol use were also asked if they consumed more five or more drinks on a single occasion.

Participants were split into three groups; group one being no substance use, group two being any use (alcohol or marijuana only), and group three being illicit substance use with alcohol or marijuana use.  For group one, Non-Judging was found to be correlated to reduced anxiety and Acting with Awareness correlated to increased anxiety. For group two, Non-Judging was related to lower stress and anxiety and for group three, Acting with Awareness was related to lower stress. Researchers found that Describing was found to be correlated to higher distress for all three groups. ER difficulties were related to depression, anxiety, and stress throughout all groups. These findings show ER difficulties are linked to alcohol, marijuana, and illicit use. Interventions may benefit from focuses on certain portions of mindfulness to improve young adults psychological functioning.

Take Away: The current study aims to build on previous findings to examine mental health outcomes predicted by emotion regulation (ER) across substance use categories. The sample for this study included 229 participants that reported substance us for past 7 and 30 days use. Measures included difficulties in emotion regulation, depression and anxiety, mindfulness, and substance use. Participants were split into three groups; group one being no substance use, group two being any use (alcohol or marijuana only), and group three being illicit substance use with alcohol or marijuana use. Researchers found that Describing was found to be correlated to higher distress for all three groups. ER difficulties were related to depression, anxiety, and stress in all groups. These findings show ER difficulties are linked to alcohol, marijuana, and illicit use. Interventions may benefit from focuses on certain portions of mindfulness to improve young adults psychological functioning.

Hutchison, M., Russell, B. S., Carney, L. M., Finkelstein-Fox, L., & Park, C. L. (2020). Collegiate Substance Use: A Tale of Differential Risk and Coping. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 212, 108038. doi:10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2020.108038

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