ARCH Lab recently published a paper titled “Substance use disorders among youth with chronic physical illness”. This study estimated prevalence of substance use disorder in youth with chronic physical illness. Associations between different chronic physical illnesses with substance use disorder were explored and the study also tested whether mental disorder moderates these associations.
Data come from 6,377 individuals aged 15-30 years in the Canadian Community Health Survey-Mental Health. Alcohol, cannabis, or other drug use disorders were measured using the WHO Composite International Diagnostic Interview 3.0. The results showed that the individuals with chronic physical illness were more likely to have other drug use disorder compared to healthy controls, but not more likely to have alcohol or cannabis use disorder. Additionally, multiple associations were found between different chronic physical illnesses and substance use disorders. Major depressive disorder also had a moderating impact on the odds for substance use disorder across various physical conditions. The findings point to, in some contexts, a reduced likelihood of substance use disorder in youth with chronic physical illness.
Altogether, this paper finds that the association between chronic physical illness and substance use disorder is complex and compounded when accounting for the moderating effect of mental disorder.