3 years ago

Early Initiation of Substance Use as an Indicator of Problematic Substance Use Among Young Men Who Have Sex with Men (YMSM)

Stephen E. Lankenau, Aleksandar Kecojevic, Corey H. Basch

Background and Objectives: Much research has documented that young men who have sex with men (YMSM) are at higher risk for substance use-related problems. This study examined the age of substance use initiation and it's relationship to current substance use-related problems among substance-using YMSM. Design and Methods: A cross-sectional survey of 191 YMSM (aged 18 to 29) with recent histories of prescription drug misuse was conducted in Philadelphia in 2012-13. Participants were surveyed about age of initiation of cigarette smoking, alcohol use to the point of intoxication, marijuana, prescription, and illicit drugs, and about alternate modes of prescription drug administration. The severity of participants' current substance use related problems was measured using the Drug Abuse Screening Test (DAST-10). Results: Mean age of initiation was 14.6 years for cigarette smoking, 15.3 years for alcohol use to the point of intoxication, 15.2 years for marijuana, 16.8 years for prescription drugs, and 17.9 years for illicit drugs. Use of 2 or more substances by the age of 15 was reported by 56% of the participants. Odds of substance-related problems were significantly greater among those who reported earlier initiation of alcohol, prescription drugs, or polysubstance use. Odds of prescription drug misuse via altered routes of administration were significantly greater among participants with earlier onset of alcohol, marijuana, prescription, illicit drugs, or polysubstance use. Discussion and Conclusions: This study demonstrates that earlier initiation of substance use is associated with higher risk of substance-related problems among substance-using YMSM. Early interventions addressing substance use initiation could benefit this population.

Publisher URL: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10826084.2017.1323926

DOI: 10.1080/10826084.2017.1323926

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