Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander alcohol, tobacco and other drug use, mental health and treatment need in the United States during COVID-19.



Before COVID-19, Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders (NH/PI) endured a heavy burden of alcohol, tobacco and other drug (ATOD) use in prior US data. Responding to reports that many NH/PI communities experienced severe COVID-19 disparities that could exacerbate their ATOD burden, we partnered with NH/PI communities to assess the substance use patterns and treatment needs of diverse NH/PIs during COVID-19.


Collaborating with NH/PI community organisations across five states with large NH/PI populations, we conducted a large-scale investigation of NH/PI ATOD use, mental health and treatment need during COVID-19. Between April and November 2021, NH/PI-heritage research staff from our community partners collected data involving 306 NH/PI adults using several community-based recruitment methods (e-mail, telephone, in-person) and two survey approaches: online and paper-and-pencil. Multivariate regressions were conducted to examine potential predictors of NH/PI alcohol use disorder and need for behavioural health treatment.


During COVID-19, 47% and 22% of NH/PI adults reported current alcohol and cigarette use, while 35% reported lifetime illicit substance use (e.g., cannabis, opioid). Depression and anxiety were high, and alcohol use disorder, major depression and generalised anxiety disorder prevalence were 27%, 27% and 19%, respectively. One-third of participants reported past-year treatment need with lifetime illicit substance use, COVID-19 distress and major depression respectively associating with 3.0, 1.2, and 5.3 times greater adjusted odds for needing treatment.


NH/PI adults reported heavy ATOD use, depression, anxiety and treatment need during COVID-19. Targeted research and treatment services may be warranted to mitigate COVID-19's negative behavioural health impact on NH/PI communities.





Published Version (Please cite this version)


Publication Info

Subica, Andrew M, Erick G Guerrero, Tammy KK Martin, Scott K Okamoto, Nia Aitaoto, Howard B Moss, Brittany N Morey, Li-Tzy Wu, et al. (2022). Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander alcohol, tobacco and other drug use, mental health and treatment need in the United States during COVID-19. Drug and alcohol review, 41(7). pp. 1653–1663. 10.1111/dar.13522 Retrieved from

This is constructed from limited available data and may be imprecise. To cite this article, please review & use the official citation provided by the journal.



Li-Tzy Wu

Professor in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Education/Training: Pre- and post-doctoral training in mental health service research, psychiatric epidemiology (NIMH T32), and addiction epidemiology (NIDA T32) from Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health (Maryland); Fellow of the NIH Summer Institute on the Design and Conduct of Randomized Clinical Trials.

Director: Duke Community Based Substance Use Disorder Research Program.

Research interests: COVID-19, Opioid misuse, Opioid overdose, Opioid use disorder, Opioid addiction prevention and treatment, Pain and addiction, Chronic diseases and substance use disorders, diabetes, pharmacy-based care models and services, medication treatment for opioid use disorder (MOUD), Drug overdose, Polysubstance use and disorders, cannabis, alcohol, tobacco, hallucinogens, stimulants, e-cigarette, SBIRT (substance use Screening, Brief Intervention, Referral to Treatment), EHR-based research and intervention, data science, psychometric analysis (IRT), epidemiology of addictions and comorbidity, behavioral health care integration, health services research (mental health disorders, substance use disorders, chronic diseases), nosology, research design, HIV risk behavior. 

FUNDED Research projects (Principal Investigator [PI], Site PI, or Sub-award PI): 
R03: Substance use/dependence (PI).
R21: Treatment use for alcohol use disorders (PI).
R21: Inhalant use & disorders (PI).
R01: MDMA/hallucinogen use/disorders (PI).
R01: Prescription pain reliever (opioids) misuse and use disorders (PI).
R01: Substance use disorders in adolescents (PI).
R21: CTN Substance use diagnoses & treatment (PI).
R33: CTN Substance use diagnoses & treatment (PI).
R01: Evolution of Psychopathology in the Population (ECA Duke site PI).
R01: Substance use disorders and treatment use among Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (PI).
UG1: SBIRT in Primary Care (NIDA, PI).
UG1: TAPS Tool, Substance use screening tool validation in primary care (NIDA, PI).
UG1: NIDA CTN Mid-Southern Node (Clinical Trials Network, PI).
UG1: EHR Data Element Study (NIDA, PI).
UG1: Buprenorphine Physician-Pharmacist Collaboration in the Management of Patients With Opioid Use Disorder (NIDA, PI).
PCORI: INSPIRE-Integrated Health Services to Reduce Opioid Use While Managing Chronic Pain (Site PI).
CDC R01: Evaluation of state-mandated acute and post-surgical pain-specific CDC opioid prescribing (Site PI).
Pilot: Measuring Opioid Use Disorders in Secondary Electronic Health Records Data (Carolinas Collaborative Grant: Duke PI).
R21: Developing a prevention model of alcohol use disorder for Pacific Islander young adults (Subaward PI, Investigator).
UG1: Subthreshold Opioid Use Disorder Prevention Trial (NIH HEAL Initiative) (NIDA supplement, CTN-0101, Investigator).
NIDA: A Pilot Study to Permit Opioid Treatment Program Physicians to Prescribe Methadone through Community Pharmacies for their Stable Methadone Patients (NIDA/FRI: Study PI).
UG1: Integrating pharmacy-based prevention and treatment of opioid and other substance use disorders: A survey of pharmacists and stakeholder (NIH HEAL Initiative, NIDA, PI).
UG1: NorthStar Node of the Clinical Trials Network (NIDA, Site PI).
R34: Intervention Development and Pilot Study to Reduce Untreated Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Opioid Use Disorders (Subaward PI, Investigator).
UG1: Optimal Policies to Improve Methadone Maintenance Adherence Longterm (OPTIMMAL Study) (NIDA, Site PI).
R01: Increasing access to opioid use disorder treatment by opening pharmacy-based medication units of opioid treatment programs (NIDA, PI)

Unless otherwise indicated, scholarly articles published by Duke faculty members are made available here with a CC-BY-NC (Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial) license, as enabled by the Duke Open Access Policy. If you wish to use the materials in ways not already permitted under CC-BY-NC, please consult the copyright owner. Other materials are made available here through the author’s grant of a non-exclusive license to make their work openly accessible.