Psychosocial Correlates of Opioid Use Profiles among Young Adults in a Longitudinal Study across 6 US Metropolitan Areas

Background: Examining opioid use profiles over time and related factors among young adults is crucial to informing prevention efforts. Objectives: This study analyzed baseline data (Fall 2018) and one-year follow-up data from a cohort of 2,975 US young adults (Mage=24.55, 42.1% male; 71.7% White; 11.4% Hispanic). Multinomial logistic regression was used to examine: 1) psychosocial correlates (i.e. adverse childhood experiences [ACEs], depressive symptoms, parental substance use) of lifetime opioid use (i.e. prescription use vs. nonuse, nonmedical prescription [NMPO] use, and heroin use, respectively); and 2) psychosocial correlates and baseline lifetime use in relation to past 6-month use at one-year follow-up (i.e. prescription use vs. nonuse and NMPO/heroin use, respectively). Results: At baseline, lifetime use prevalence was: 30.2% prescription, 9.7% NMPO, and 3.1% heroin; past 6-month use prevalence was: 7.6% prescription, 2.5% NMPO, and 0.9% heroin. Compared to prescription users, nonusers reported fewer ACEs and having parents more likely to use tobacco, but less likely alcohol; NMPO users did not differ; and heroin users reported more ACEs and having parents more likely to use cannabis but less likely alcohol. At one-year follow-up, past 6-month use prevalence was: 4.3% prescription, 1.3% NMPO, and 1.4% heroin; relative to prescription users, nonusers were less likely to report baseline lifetime opioid use and reported fewer ACEs, and NMPO/heroin users were less likely to report baseline prescription opioid use but more likely heroin use. Conclusions: Psychosocial factors differentially correlate with young adult opioid use profiles, and thus may inform targeted interventions addressing different use patterns and psychosocial risk factors.


Opioid use; risk factors; substance use; young adults.

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