Nav: Home

Daily stress can trigger uptick in illegal drug use for those on parole, probation

May 03, 2017

A recent study finds that even small, day-to-day stressors can cause an increase in illegal drug use among people on probation or parole who have a history of substance use. The study could inform future treatment efforts and was conducted by researchers at North Carolina State Uaniversity, the University of Texas, the Schroeder Institute for Tobacco and Policy Studies, the Truth Initiative, Gateway Foundation Corrections and Texas Christian University.

"Our findings suggest that drug and alcohol treatment are valuable tools for those on parole or probation, and that even if people relapse, the treatment helps them limit their substance use over time," says Sarah Desmarais, an associate professor of psychology at NC State and co-lead author of a paper describing the work.

"The work also tells us that substance abuse prevention programs may be more effective if they take into account the treatment history of program participants," says Shevaun Neupert, an associate professor of psychology at NC State and co-lead author of a paper describing the work.

"Typically, we focus on the stress of traumatic events, such as the death of a loved one, and its effect on people returning to substance use," Desmarais says. "For this study, we wanted to know how small, daily stressors -- like arguments -- might affect alcohol or illegal drug use."

"This work may help us inform treatment and help people avoid substance-use problems that could lead them back to prison," Neupert says.

For the study, researchers looked at data on 117 men who were on probation or parole and were enrolled in a community-based substance abuse treatment program. All of the study participants completed a baseline psychosocial evaluation that addressed their criminal history, their history of substance use and their treatment history. Participants then completed a confidential, daily survey about their day-to-day stressors, cravings for alcohol and illegal drugs, and use of alcohol and illegal drugs for 14 consecutive days.

"We found that the more stress people had on any given day, the more likely they were to crave and use illegal drugs that day," Neupert says. "And this effect was especially pronounced in study participants who had little or no previous history with drug-treatment programs."

The researchers found no connection between daily stress and alcohol use. However, they did find that stressful days affected cravings for alcohol on the following day - but in two different ways. Participants with a lengthy history of treatment actually experienced less intense alcohol cravings the day after stress, whereas participants with little history of treatment saw an increase in cravings.

"Taken together, these findings indicate that treatment may have a strong, residual effect that buffers the impact of stress on substance cravings and abuse," Desmarais says.

The researchers also looked at whether illegal drug use predicted stress the following day, and it did - particularly for those with an extensive history of drug treatment.

"We think this particular finding indicates that these study participants have a more severe problem with drug abuse, and possibly that they are especially aware of the consequences of their drug use," Neupert says.
-end-
The paper, "Daily Stressors as Antecedents, Correlates, and Consequences of Alcohol and Drug Use and Cravings in Community-Based Offenders," is published in the journal Psychology of Addictive Behaviors. The paper was co-authored by Julie S. Gray of the University of Texas at Arlington; Amy M. Cohn of the Schroeder Institute for Tobacco and Policy Studies and the Truth Initiative; Stephen Doherty of Gateway Foundation Corrections; and Kevin Knight of Texas Christian University. The work was funded by a grant to Texas Christian University from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, under National Institutes of Health grant DA016190, with support from the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (all part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services), and from the Bureau of Justice Assistance of the U.S. Department of Justice.

North Carolina State University

Related Stress Articles:

Early life stress is associated with youth-onset depression for some types of stress but not others
Examining the association between eight different types of early life stress (ELS) and youth-onset depression, a study in JAACAP, published by Elsevier, reports that individuals exposed to ELS were more likely to develop a major depressive disorder (MDD) in childhood or adolescence than individuals who had not been exposed to ELS.
Red light for stress
Researchers from the Institute of Industrial Science at The University of Tokyo have created a biphasic luminescent material that changes color when exposed to mechanical stress.
How do our cells respond to stress?
Molecular biologists reverse-engineer a complex cellular structure that is associated with neurodegenerative diseases such as ALS
How stress remodels the brain
Stress restructures the brain by halting the production of crucial ion channel proteins, according to research in mice recently published in JNeurosci.
Why stress doesn't always cause depression
Rats susceptible to anhedonia, a core symptom of depression, possess more serotonin neurons after being exposed to chronic stress, but the effect can be reversed through amygdala activation, according to new research in JNeurosci.
How plants handle stress
Plants get stressed too. Drought or too much salt disrupt their physiology.
Stress in the powerhouse of the cell
University of Freiburg researchers discover a new principle -- how cells protect themselves from mitochondrial defects.
Measuring stress around cells
Tissues and organs in the human body are shaped through forces generated by cells, that push and pull, to ''sculpt'' biological structures.
Cellular stress at the movies
For the first time, biological imaging experts have used a custom fluorescence microscope and a novel antibody tagging tool to watch living cells undergoing stress.
Maternal stress at conception linked to children's stress response at age 11
A new study published in the Journal of Developmental Origins of Health and Disease finds that mothers' stress levels at the moment they conceive their children are linked to the way children respond to life challenges at age 11.
More Stress News and Stress Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: The Power Of Spaces
How do spaces shape the human experience? In what ways do our rooms, homes, and buildings give us meaning and purpose? This hour, TED speakers explore the power of the spaces we make and inhabit. Guests include architect Michael Murphy, musician David Byrne, artist Es Devlin, and architect Siamak Hariri.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#576 Science Communication in Creative Places
When you think of science communication, you might think of TED talks or museum talks or video talks, or... people giving lectures. It's a lot of people talking. But there's more to sci comm than that. This week host Bethany Brookshire talks to three people who have looked at science communication in places you might not expect it. We'll speak with Mauna Dasari, a graduate student at Notre Dame, about making mammals into a March Madness match. We'll talk with Sarah Garner, director of the Pathologists Assistant Program at Tulane University School of Medicine, who takes pathology instruction out of...
Now Playing: Radiolab

What If?
There's plenty of speculation about what Donald Trump might do in the wake of the election. Would he dispute the results if he loses? Would he simply refuse to leave office, or even try to use the military to maintain control? Last summer, Rosa Brooks got together a team of experts and political operatives from both sides of the aisle to ask a slightly different question. Rather than arguing about whether he'd do those things, they dug into what exactly would happen if he did. Part war game part choose your own adventure, Rosa's Transition Integrity Project doesn't give us any predictions, and it isn't a referendum on Trump. Instead, it's a deeply illuminating stress test on our laws, our institutions, and on the commitment to democracy written into the constitution. This episode was reported by Bethel Habte, with help from Tracie Hunte, and produced by Bethel Habte. Jeremy Bloom provided original music. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.     You can read The Transition Integrity Project's report here.