Psychological processes and stimulant use among men who have sex with men.

Published: November 14, 2011


Prior research established that psychological factors are associated with the frequency of stimulant (i.e., cocaine, crack, and methamphetamine) use among substance-using men who have sex with men (MSM). The present investigation examined whether and how psychological factors are associated with engagement in any stimulant use in the broader population of MSM.

A probability sample of 879 MSM residing in San Francisco was obtained using random digit dialing from May of 2002 through January of 2003. Of these, 711 participants (81%) completed a mail-in questionnaire that assessed psychological factors and substance use. After accounting for demographic factors, a multiple logistic regression analysis examined correlates of any self-reported stimulant use during the past 6 months. Path analyses examined if the use of alcohol or other substances to avoid negative mood states (i.e., substance use coping) mediated the associations of sexual compulsivity and depressed mood with stimulant use.

Younger age (adjusted OR [AOR]=0.58; 95% CI=0.47-0.70), HIV-positive serostatus (AOR=2.55; 95% CI=1.61-4.04), greater depressed mood (AOR=1.26; 95% CI=1.05-1.52) and higher sexual compulsivity (AOR=1.46; 95% CI=1.18-1.80) were independently associated with increased odds of stimulant use. Substance use coping partially mediated the associations of sexual compulsivity (β(indirect)=0.11, p<.001) and depressed mood (β(indirect)=0.13, p<.001) with stimulant use.

Clinical research is needed to examine if interventions targeting sexual compulsivity and emotion regulation reduce stimulant use among MSM.

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