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Longitudinal associations between outpatient medical care use and substance use among rural stimulant users.
Cucciare MA, Han X, Timko C, Zaller N, Kennedy KM, Booth BM. Longitudinal associations between outpatient medical care use and substance use among rural stimulant users. The American journal of drug and alcohol abuse. 2017 Jun 29; 44(2):235-243.
Negative views toward substance use treatment among some rural substance users and limited treatment resources in rural areas likely affect substance use utilization. It is therefore important to determine whether accessing healthcare options other than substance use treatment, specifically outpatient medical care (OMC), is associated with reductions in substance use.
We examined whether use of OMC was associated with reductions in substance use among rural substance users over a three-year period. We also explored whether substance user characteristics, including substance-use severity and related-problems, moderated this potential relationship.
Data were collected from an observational study of 710 (61% male) stimulant users using respondent-driven sampling. Participants were recruited from rural counties of Arkansas, Kentucky, and Ohio.
We found a significant main effect of having at least one OMC visit (relative to none) on fewer days of alcohol, crack cocaine, and methamphetamine use over time. Fewer days of alcohol, crack cocaine, and methamphetamine use were reported in participants with at least one OMC visit (relative to those with none) among those reporting higher Addiction Severity Index employment and psychiatric severity scores, and low education, respectively.
Our findings extend the results from prior studies with urban substance users to show that contact with an outpatient medical care clinic is associated with reductions in substance use over time among rural substance users with especially poorer functioning. These findings highlight the potential importance of OMCs in addressing unhealthy substance use in rural communities.