Emotion dysregulation as an explanatory factor in the relation between negative affectivity and non-medical use of opioid in a diverse young adult sample

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The non-medical use of prescription opioids is an area of increasing public health concern, particularly among young college-age adults (ages 18-25) who demonstrate an increased risk of opioid-related problems. Negative mood states are consistently associated with more severe non-medical use of opioid. Emotion dysregulation defined an impaired ability to understand, evaluate, and differentiate one's emotions, and access strategies to regulate them could play an explanatory role in this association. The present study examined the potential explanatory role of emotion dysregulation in the relationship between negative affectivity and non-medical use of prescription opioid among a racially/ethnically diverse young adult sample (N = 2080, 78.7% female, Mage = 21.9, SD = 4.9) attending a large southwestern state university, and across the two sub-samples of individuals with and without pain. Results indicated that emotion dysregulation explained, in part, the association between negative affectivity and non-medical use of opioid-related variables, including self-reported addiction to opioids, denial of opioid prescription by a healthcare provider, and family concerns about participant's opioid use. These indirect effects were comparable across individuals with and without pain. Findings suggest that targeting emotion dysregulation may be one therapeutic strategy to reduce non-medical use of opioid in the context of negative affectivity among college students.

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Addictive behaviors

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