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Polysubstance Use in Early Adulthood: Patterns and Developmental Precursors in an Urban Cohort


Steinhoff, Annekatrin; Bechtiger, Laura; Ribeaud, Denis; Eisner, Manuel P; Quednow, Boris B; Shanahan, Lilly (2022). Polysubstance Use in Early Adulthood: Patterns and Developmental Precursors in an Urban Cohort. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, 15:797473.

Abstract

Polysubstance use (i.e., simultaneous or sequential use of different psychoactive substances) is associated with increases in the risk of severe health problems and social impairments. The present study leverages community-representative, long-term longitudinal data from an urban cohort to assess: (a) the prevalence and continuation of polysubstance use between adolescence and early adulthood; (b) different patterns of polysubstance use (i.e., combinations of substances) in early adulthood; and (c) childhood risk factors for polysubstance use in early adulthood. At age 20 (n = 1,180), respondents provided comprehensive self-reported information on past-year substance use, including use of legal and illicit substances (e.g., cannabinoids, stimulants, and hallucinogens), and nonmedical use of prescription drugs (e.g., opioids, tranquilizers). In adolescence (ages 13–17), limited versions of this questionnaire were administered. In childhood (ages 7–11), potential risk factors, including individual-level factors (e.g., sensation-seeking, low self-control, aggression, and internalizing symptoms) and social-environmental factors (e.g., social stressors, exposure to others’ substance use), were assessed. We fitted latent class models to identify classes of participants with different substance use profiles in early adulthood. The results show that polysubstance use increased between early adolescence and early adulthood. The continuation of polysubstance use was common (stability between all adjacent assessments: odds ratio >7). At age 20, more than one-third of participants reported polysubstance use (involving illicit substances, nonmedical use of prescription drugs, and cannabidiol). Four latent classes with polysubstance use were identified: (1) broad spectrum of substances; (2) cannabis and club drugs; (3) cannabis and the nonmedical use of prescription drugs; and (4) different cannabinoids. Risk factors for any polysubstance use included childhood sensation-seeking and exposure to others’ substance use; some childhood risk factors were differentially associated with the four classes (e.g., low self-control in childhood was associated with an increased likelihood of being in the broad spectrum class). The classes also differed with regard to socio-demographic factors. This study revealed that polysubstance use is a widespread and multifaceted phenomenon that typically emerges during adolescence. To facilitate the design of tailored prevention mechanisms, the heterogeneity of polysubstance use and respective socio-demographic and developmental precursors need to be considered.

Abstract

Polysubstance use (i.e., simultaneous or sequential use of different psychoactive substances) is associated with increases in the risk of severe health problems and social impairments. The present study leverages community-representative, long-term longitudinal data from an urban cohort to assess: (a) the prevalence and continuation of polysubstance use between adolescence and early adulthood; (b) different patterns of polysubstance use (i.e., combinations of substances) in early adulthood; and (c) childhood risk factors for polysubstance use in early adulthood. At age 20 (n = 1,180), respondents provided comprehensive self-reported information on past-year substance use, including use of legal and illicit substances (e.g., cannabinoids, stimulants, and hallucinogens), and nonmedical use of prescription drugs (e.g., opioids, tranquilizers). In adolescence (ages 13–17), limited versions of this questionnaire were administered. In childhood (ages 7–11), potential risk factors, including individual-level factors (e.g., sensation-seeking, low self-control, aggression, and internalizing symptoms) and social-environmental factors (e.g., social stressors, exposure to others’ substance use), were assessed. We fitted latent class models to identify classes of participants with different substance use profiles in early adulthood. The results show that polysubstance use increased between early adolescence and early adulthood. The continuation of polysubstance use was common (stability between all adjacent assessments: odds ratio >7). At age 20, more than one-third of participants reported polysubstance use (involving illicit substances, nonmedical use of prescription drugs, and cannabidiol). Four latent classes with polysubstance use were identified: (1) broad spectrum of substances; (2) cannabis and club drugs; (3) cannabis and the nonmedical use of prescription drugs; and (4) different cannabinoids. Risk factors for any polysubstance use included childhood sensation-seeking and exposure to others’ substance use; some childhood risk factors were differentially associated with the four classes (e.g., low self-control in childhood was associated with an increased likelihood of being in the broad spectrum class). The classes also differed with regard to socio-demographic factors. This study revealed that polysubstance use is a widespread and multifaceted phenomenon that typically emerges during adolescence. To facilitate the design of tailored prevention mechanisms, the heterogeneity of polysubstance use and respective socio-demographic and developmental precursors need to be considered.

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Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Psychiatric University Hospital Zurich > Clinic for Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, and Psychosomatics
04 Faculty of Medicine > Neuroscience Center Zurich
06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Sociology
06 Faculty of Arts > Jacobs Center for Productive Youth Development
Dewey Decimal Classification:370 Education
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
Life Sciences > Cognitive Neuroscience
Life Sciences > Behavioral Neuroscience
Uncontrolled Keywords:Behavioral Neuroscience, Cognitive Neuroscience, Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
Language:English
Date:27 January 2022
Deposited On:24 Feb 2022 12:35
Last Modified:28 Mar 2024 02:34
Publisher:Frontiers Research Foundation
ISSN:1662-5153
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:PubMed ID. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.3389/fnbeh.2021.797473
PubMed ID:35153693
Project Information:
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant ID10531C_189008
  • : Project TitleSubstance use and stress in young adulthood
  • : FunderJacobs Foundation
  • : Grant ID
  • : Project Title
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant ID10FI14_170409
  • : Project TitleThe Zurich Project on the Social Development from Childhood to Adulthood: Phase V
  • : Funder
  • : Grant ID10FI14_170402/2
  • : Project Title
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant ID10FI14_198052
  • : Project TitleThe Zurich Project on the Social Development from Childhood to Adulthood: Phase VI
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)