Substance Use and Stress in Young Adulthood
Stress and substance use are major challenges for young people in Switzerland. To date, however, there have been few large-scale studies that have assessed biologically manifested markers of substance use and stress levels. The present study addressed this gap in research, by drawing on the Zurich Project on the Social Development from Childhood to Adulthood (z-proso). Specifically, the study team collected hair samples from approximately 1000 participants. These samples were then assayed with modern, non-invasive hair-toxicology analyses for markers of biologically manifested chronic stress (e.g. cortisol, cortisone) as well as metabolites of various substances. The team can now link these biological markers of stress and substance use to psychosocial experiences that were collected from the same participants and their parents and teachers from ages 7 to 20 years. For example, since they were seven years old, the study participants repeatedly provided information on stressful life events, victimization experiences, school attachment, and behavioral development. By providing a realistic assessment of stress and substance use among young adults in Switzerland, the study fills a notable gap in previous research, and provides important information for policy and drug prevention.
Prof. Lilly Shanahan is the Principal Investigator of this interdisciplinary project, which is conducted in collaboration with Prof. Dr. Boris Quednow (Psychiatric University Clinic Zurich), Dr. Markus Baumgartner (UZH Forensic Pharmacology & Toxicology), Prof. Dr. Manuel Eisner (Sociology), Dr. Denis Ribeaud (Sociology), the EAWAG (Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology), and a wonderful team of PhD students and post-docs.