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Heavy drug use in young adulthood

Heavy drug use leads to negative consequences among individuals along with society as a whole. Due to this fact, it is important to learn which young adults are continuing drug use into early adulthood. The current study aims to assess which young adults are maintaining drug use over time to be able to target them for interventions.

Data for this study was taken from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health). This study collected four waves of data starting when participants were anywhere from 12-21 years of age. Participants were between the ages of 25-34 at the last wave of the study. Measures for this study included age, sex, race-ethnicity, receiving aid such as food stamps, prior drug use, substance availability, parental heavy drinking, acceptancy, autonomy-granting and parental religiosity, availability of alcohol in the home, and availability of illegal drugs in the home. At wave 3, researchers asked about alcohol use, marijuana use, other illegal drug use, and prescription drug misuse. At wave 4, researchers asked more about long term problematic substance use.

Results from this study are consistent with previous research. Researchers found as respondents age; they are less to participant in heavy drinking. They found men and white individuals are more likely to engage in heavy drug use. Another finding was prior alcohol use in wave 1 was a predictor of alcohol use, marijuana use, prescription drug misuse, and other illegal drug use later. Alcohol availability was found to be associated with heavy episodic drinking. Depression in adolescence along with family issues such as heavy drinking by parent’s alcohol use were both associated with heavier alcohol use and potentially marijuana use. These findings are important in helping to predict which young adults are at higher risk for substance misuse so interventions can be provided to them.

Take Away: With heavy drug use being a concern among young adults, the current study aims to assess which young adults are maintaining drug use over time to be able to target them for interventions. Data for this study was taken from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health) and included 4 waves with participants starting from ages 12-21 and ending with ages 25-34. Measures included demographics and several questions surrounding parental substance use, personal substance use, and other potential predictors of substance misuse in emerging adults. Researchers found as respondents age; they are less likely to participant in heavy drinking. Prior alcohol use in wave 1 was a predictor of alcohol use, marijuana use, prescription drug misuse, and other illegal drug use.  Depression in adolescence along with family issues such as heavy drinking by parent’s alcohol use were both associated with substance misuse. These findings are important in helping to predict those at higher risk so interventions can be provided to them.

Broman, C. L., Wright, M. K., Choi, S. H., & Wang, Y. (2020). Heavy drug use in young adulthood. Journal of Substance Use, 1-6. doi:10.1080/14659891.2020.1760369

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