Background: Low socioeconomic position predicts risk of substance abuse, yet few studies tested the role of preexisting familial and individual characteristics.
Methods: Data come from the TEMPO (Trajectoires Epidemiologiques en Population) study (community sample in France, 1991-2009, n = 1103, 22-35 years in 2009) set up among offspring of participants of an epidemiological study (GAZEL). Past 12-month substance use was assessed in 2009 by self-completed mail survey: regular tobacco smoking, alcohol abuse (AUDIT), cannabis use, problematic cannabis use (CAST), other illegal drug use. Socioeconomic position was defined by educational attainment, occupational grade, employment stability and unemployment. Covariates included demographics (age, sex, relationship status, parenthood), family background (parental income, parental tobacco smoking, parental alcohol use), and juvenile characteristics (psychological problems, academic difficulties) measured longitudinally.
Results: 35.8% of study participants were regular smokers, 14.3% abused alcohol, 22.6% used cannabis (6.3% had problematic cannabis use) and 4.1% used other illegal drugs. Except for alcohol abuse, substance use rates were systematically higher in individuals with low, rather than intermediate/high, socioeconomic position (age and sex-adjusted ORs from 1.75 for cannabis use to 2.11 for tobacco smoking and 2.44 for problematic cannabis use). In multivariate analyses these socioeconomic disparities were decreased, but remained statistically significant (except for illegal drugs other than cannabis).
Conclusions: Tobacco smoking, alcohol, cannabis and polysubstance use are common behaviors among young adults, particularly those experiencing socioeconomic disadvantage. Interventions aiming to decrease substance abuse and reduce socioeconomic inequalities in this area should be implemented early in life. (C) 2011 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.