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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Columbia: Partners with CUNY in Study on Depression, Cannabis Use and Binge Drinking Increase the Risk of Relapse Among Former Smokers

The prevalence of depression, cannabis use, and alcohol abuse increased among former smokers from 2005 to 2016 in the U.S., according to a new study at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and CUNY in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. This is the first national study on the prevalence and time trends of depression, marijuana use, and problematic alcohol use among former smokers.

“It’s good news that as tobacco control efforts have been successful, the proportion of former smokers is rising. Yet, more of them are now suffering from depression and engaging in problematic substance use,” said lead investigator Dr. Renee Goodwin, of the Mailman School’s Department of Epidemiology and the Institute for Implementation Science in Population Health, CUNY.

Conducted in 2018-9, the study investigated the prevalence of depression, cannabis, use and alcohol misuse among former smokers ages 18 and older in the U.S. from 2005 to 2016. Data were from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

During the study period, the incidence of major depression increased from 4.88 percent to 6.04 percent, cannabis use during the previous year rose from 5.35 percent to 10.09 percent, and alcohol binge drinking during the previous month went up from 17.22 percent to 22.33 percent among former smokers.

Factors that may have affected the results are the increasing legalization, decreasing perception of risk associated with use, and reduced stigma of cannabis. However, when former smokers use it, they increase their likelihood of returning to tobacco.

“Our study should signal an alarm for public health leaders and health care providers. The findings represent a looming threat to the progress that has been made in reducing the prevalence of cigarette use,” cautioned Dr. Goodwin.

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