Substance Use & Intervention Programmes: Remember to Address Social Issues Regardless of Deployment History

Research Paper Title

Problems With Social Acceptance and Social Victimization Predict Substance Use Among U.S. Reserve/Guard Soldiers.

Background

The effects of negative social interactions/experiences on substance use have largely been studied in civilian populations, but less is known about United States Army Reserve/National Guard (USAR/NG) soldiers-a high-risk group.

Methods

The researchers examined the associations between problems with social acceptance, social victimisation, and substance use among USAR/NG soldiers, and examined potential differences by deployment history.

The sample consisted of soldiers who completed baseline and 1-year follow-up assessments (N = 445) of Operation: SAFETY, an ongoing study of USAR/NG soldiers.

They examined the effects of baseline problems with social acceptance/social victimization on nonmedical use of prescription drugs (NMUPD), illicit drug use, frequent heavy drinking (FHD), and alcohol problems at follow-up.

Results

Significant effects were small in magnitude but consistent in direction.

Greater problems with social acceptance were associated with higher odds of NMUPD and illicit drug use.

Greater social victimisation was associated with higher odds of NMUPD and illicit drug use.

There were no differences by deployment history.

Conclusions

Problems with social acceptance/social victimisation were not associated with FHD or alcohol problems.

Problems with social acceptance/social victimisation may contribute to drug use among USAR/NG soldiers.

Intervention programmes should address social issues, regardless of deployment history.

Reference

Hoopsick, R.A., Vest, B.M., Homish, D.L. & Homish, G.G. (2020) Problems With Social Acceptance and Social Victimization Predict Substance Use Among U.S. Reserve/Guard Soldiers. Stress and Health. doi: 10.1002/smi.2934. Online ahead of print.

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