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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Cumulative and Recent Psychiatric Symptoms as Predictors of Substance Use Onset: Does Timing Matter?

We examined two questions about the relationship between conduct disorder (CD), depression, and anxiety symptoms and substance use onset: (1) what is the relative influence of recent and more chronic psychiatric symptoms on alcohol and marijuana use initiation and (2) are there sensitive developmental periods when psychiatric symptoms have a stronger influence on substance use initiation?

Secondary analysis of longitudinal data from the Pittsburgh Youth Study, a cohort study of boys followed annually from 7-19 years of age.
Recruitment occurred in public schools in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA.
Five hundred and three boys.
The primary outcomes were age of alcohol and marijuana use onset. Discrete-time hazard models were used to determine whether (a) recent (prior year); and (b) cumulative (from age 7 until 2 years prior to substance use onset) psychiatric symptoms were associated with substance use onset.
Recent anxiety symptoms (HR= 1.10, 95% CI=1.03-1.17), recent (HR=1.59, 95% CI=1.35-1.87), cumulative (HR=1.45, 95% CI=1.03-2.03) CD symptoms, and cumulative depression symptoms (HR= 1.04, 95% CI=1.01-1.08) were associated with earlier alcohol use onset. Recent (HR=1.39, 95% CI=1.22-1.58) and cumulative CD symptoms (HR=1.38, 95% CI=1.02-1.85) were associated with marijuana use onset. Recent anxiety symptoms were only associated with alcohol use onset among black participants.
Timing matters in the relationship between psychiatric symptoms and substance use onset in childhood and adolescence, and the psychiatric predictors of onset are substance-specific. There is no single sensitive developmental period for the influence of psychiatric symptoms on alcohol and marijuana use initiation.

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