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Special Issue "Vulnerable Populations: Substance and Behavioral Addictions"

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601). This special issue belongs to the section "Health Behavior, Chronic Disease and Health Promotion".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 July 2021).

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Steve Sussman
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Institute for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Research, University of Southern California, Soto Street Building, Room 302, 2001 N. Soto Street, Los Angeles, CA 90032, USA
Interests: substance and behavioral addictions; translation research
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

We are organizing a Special Issue on “Vulnerable Populations: Substance and Behavioral Addictions” in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. The venue is a peer-reviewed scientific journal that publishes articles and communications in the interdisciplinary area of environmental health sciences and public health. For detailed information on the journal, we refer you to https://0-www-mdpi-com.brum.beds.ac.uk/journal/ijerph.  

This Special Issue invites both empirical papers and systematic or scoping reviews on the prevalence, co-occurrence, and associates of both substance and behavioral addictions among vulnerable populations. That is, the populations of interest are those uniquely impacted by the pushes (stresses) and pulls (seductions) of lifestyle factors that facilitate addiction. Addiction here is defined as recurrent appetitive effect-related behavior, about which one experiences preoccupation, loss of control, and their undesired or negative consequences. For example, one may consider low-income populations as being vulnerable to addiction to certain substances and behaviors that are inexpensive and widely accessible. People may drink perfumes or home-made alcoholic beverages in some countries, attend local gambling establishments with fantasies of winning out of poverty, or even engage in both of these two addictions concurrently. Manuscripts are already in the works pertaining to transgender youth and adults, indigenous peoples, South African treatment service users, those who experienced adverse childhood experiences, and Pacific Islanders. Types of addictions that might be considered are numerous but could include tobacco, alcohol, other drugs, food, gambling, internet and other electronic media, love, sex, workaholism, shopping, and exercise.   

Prof. Dr. Steve Sussman
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2300 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • Substance addictions
  • Behavioral addictions
  • Vulnerable populations
  • Addiction prevalence
  • Addiction co-occurrence
  • Predictors and correlates of addiction

Published Papers (1 paper)

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Can Adverse Childhood Experiences Heighten Risk for Problematic Internet and Smartphone Use? Findings from a College Sample
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(11), 5978; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph18115978 - 02 Jun 2021
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Background: College students are among the heaviest users of smartphones and the Internet, and there is growing concern regarding problematic Internet (PIU) and smartphone use (PSU). A subset of adverse childhood experiences, household dysfunction [(HHD) e.g.; parental substance use, mental illness, incarceration, suicide, [...] Read more.
Background: College students are among the heaviest users of smartphones and the Internet, and there is growing concern regarding problematic Internet (PIU) and smartphone use (PSU). A subset of adverse childhood experiences, household dysfunction [(HHD) e.g.; parental substance use, mental illness, incarceration, suicide, intimate partner violence, separation/divorce, homelessness], are robust predictors of behavioral disorders; however, few studies have investigated the link between HHD and PIU and PSU and potential protective factors, such as social support, among students. Methods: Data are from a diverse California student sample (N = 1027). The Smartphone Addiction Scale—Short Version and Internet Addiction Test assessed dimensions of addiction. Regression models tested associations between students’ level of HHD (No HHD, 1–3 HHD, ≥4 HHD) and PSU and PIU, and the role of extrafamilial social support in these relationships, adjusting for age, gender, ethnicity, SES, employment loss due to COVID-19, and depression. Results: Compared to students reporting no HHD, students with ≥4 HHD had twice the odds (AOR: 2.03, 95% CI: 1.21–3.40) of meeting criteria for PSU, while students with 1–3 HHD and ≥4 HHD had three and six times the odds of moderate to severe PIU (AORs: 2.03–2.46, CI:1.21–3.96) after adjusting for covariates. Extrafamilial social support was inversely associated with PIU and moderated the HHD–PSU association for students with 1–3 HHD. Conclusion: Students exposed to HHD may be especially vulnerable to developing behavioral addictions such as PSU and PIU. Extrafamilial social support offset the negative effects of HHD for PSU among the moderate risk group; implications for prevention efforts are discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Vulnerable Populations: Substance and Behavioral Addictions)
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