Research & Resources

Alcohol Trajectories and Subsequent Risk for Opioid Misuse in Urban Adolescents

Researchers in the study investigated different alcohol use trajectories throughout adolescence and young adulthood in relation to the development of opioid misuse in young adulthood among urban minority youth. Data were collected from a study of 580 youth residing in Baltimore City followed from ages 6–26. Alcohol trajectories were identified between ages 14 and 26 and opioid misuse was defined as using opioid painkillers without a prescription or using heroin between ages 19 and 26. Six alcohol use trajectories were identified: young adult increasing (21.4 percent), adult increasing (19.1 percent), abstaining (19.1 percent), experimenting (15.3 percent), adolescent increasing (14.8 percent), and adolescent limited (10.2 percent). Findings showed that escalating alcohol use in adolescence and young adulthood is associated with an elevated risk of opioid misuse in young adulthood in a cohort of predominantly African American and socioeconomically disadvantaged young people. The researchers suggested that tailored interventions target high levels of alcohol use during these developmental periods to reduce risk for opioid misuse among disadvantaged youth.

This paper, “Alcohol trajectories and subsequent risk for opioid misuse in a cohort of urban adolescents,” was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and published in the journal Substance Abuse.

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