258432 Predictors of readiness to change young adult drug use in community health settings

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Ebon Alley, MSW , School of Social Work, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX
Kirk von Sternberg, PhD , School of Social Work, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX
Tiffany Ryan, MSW , School of Social Work, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX
Purpose: 18-25 year olds consume more drugs than any other age group. Development of impulse control and affect regulation during young adulthood are believed to be important in coping with negative emotions and behavior including substance abuse. Compared to older adults, they often do not identify as abusing or being dependent on substances, and may not utilize interventions. Screening and Brief Interventions can provide an opportunity for young adults to receive care.

Methods: This study evaluated readiness to change drug use in young adults ages 18-25. Data was collected from 2000-08, in a Texas metropolitan hospital. 1,560 non-treatment seeking young adults who screened at risk for drug problems were assessed using the Readiness Ruler. Latent variables included emotional distress, drug problem severity and criminal activity. Structural equation modeling tested relevant paths.

Results: Drug problem severity fully mediated the relationship between emotional distress and readiness. Females were significantly associated with higher readiness to change than males. The direct effect of severity of Drug Use on Readiness was significant.

Conclusions: The path connecting Emotional Distress, Drug Use and Readiness to Change was strong. It also contained the two strongest direct effects measured. This may infer that young adults receiving care in community health settings are utilizing substances in order to cope/self-medicate with emotional distress. Further, the more severe the distress and subsequent drug use, the higher the readiness for change.

Learning Areas:
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe the path between factors that affect readiness to change drug use behavior among at risk young adults.

Keywords: Drug Abuse, Screening

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a PHD student and have worked closely with the Center for Social Work Research, been trained in SEM, and have scientifically studied drug use through my program.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.