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Public Health


Manoj Sharma


Substance abuse is a serious public health problem in the United States and globally. Abuse of more than one substance is considered polysubstance abuse and can cause more harm than abuse of only one substance. Polysubstance abuse compounds the problems of addiction because of the variety of substances that may be used and the resulting side effects. This quantitative cross-sectional secondary data analysis, guided by the socio-ecological theory, assessed patient characteristics and how predictive they were for polysubstance abuse. The study sample of 986 patients was analyzed by binomial logistic regression to assess the association between patient-related factors and polysubstance abuse. Selected patient related independent variables were sex, race, age, education level, health insurance status, living arrangements, employment status, prior treatment for substance abuse, diagnosed mental illness, and alcohol abuse. The dependent variable was whether patients exhibited polysubstance abuse upon admission to a drug rehabilitation facility. Results of the study found that 54% of the study population exhibited polysubstance abuse upon admission to a drug rehabilitation facility. The following patient factors were statistically significant predictors of polysubstance abuse, p <0.05: age, education level, employment status, diagnosed mental illness, and alcohol. Recommendations include training public health professionals on patients that are more likely to exhibit polysubstance abuse and creating policy changes for better access to mental health services. The implications for social change are that substance abuse issues should not be treated criminally and that getting patients the care they need, especially in relation to mental health services, can help lower rates of polysubstance abuse.

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