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Illicit drug use in young adults and subsequent decline in general health: the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) Study
Quantitative Health Sciences Publications and Presentations
  • Stefan G. Kertesz, University of Alabama
  • Mark J. Pletcher, University of California
  • Monika M. Safford, University of Alabama
  • Jewell H. Halanych, University of Alabama
  • Katharine Kirk, University of Alabama
  • Joseph Schumacher, University of Alabama
  • Stephen Sidney
  • Catarina I. Kiefe, University of Massachusetts Medical School
UMMS Affiliation
Department of Quantitative Health Sciences
Publication Date
Document Type
Adult; African Continental Ancestry Group; Alabama; California; Cohort Studies; Coronary Disease; European Continental Ancestry Group; Female; *Health Status; Humans; Male; Multivariate Analysis; Risk Assessment; Socioeconomic Factors; *Street Drugs; Substance-Related Disorders

BACKGROUND: The long-term health consequences of drug use among healthy young adults in the general population are not well described. We assessed whether drug use predicted decline in general self-rated health (GSRH) in a community-based cohort, healthy at baseline.

METHODS: A prospective cohort of 3124 young adults (20-32 years old) from four US cities, the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults Study, was followed from 1987/1988 to 2000/2001. All reported "Good" or better GSRH at baseline, with reassessment in 2000/2001. Drug use in 1987/1988 was as follows: 812 participants were Never Users; 1554 Past Users Only; 503 Current Marijuana Users Only; 255 Current Hard Drug Users (e.g. cocaine, amphetamines, opiates). Analyses measured the association of drug use (1987/1988) with decline to "Fair" or "Poor" GSRH in 2000/2001, adjusting for biological and psychosocial covariates.

RESULTS: Reporting health decline were: 7.2% of Never Users; 6.5%, Past Use Only; 7.0%, Current Marijuana Only; 12.6%, Current Hard Drugs (p<0.01). After multivariable adjustment, Current Hard Drug Use in 1987/1988 remained associated with health decline (Odds Ratio (OR), referent Never Use: 1.83, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.07-3.12). The health decline associated with Current Hard Drugs appeared to be partly mediated by tobacco smoking in 2000/2001, which independently predicted health decline (OR 1.66, 95% CI 1.08-2.50) and weakened the apparent effect of Current Hard Drugs (OR 1.21, 95% CI 0.62-2.36).

CONCLUSIONS: Hard drug use in healthy young adults, even when hard drug use stops, is associated with a subsequent decrease in general self-rated health that may be partially explained by persistent tobacco use.

DOI of Published Version
Drug Alcohol Depend. 2007 May 11;88(2-3):224-33. Epub 2006 Nov 29. Link to article on publisher's site
PubMed ID
Related Resources
Link to Article in PubMed
Citation Information
Stefan G. Kertesz, Mark J. Pletcher, Monika M. Safford, Jewell H. Halanych, et al.. "Illicit drug use in young adults and subsequent decline in general health: the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) Study" Vol. 88 Iss. 2-3 (2006) ISSN: 0376-8716 (Linking)
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