• 1 Institute for Public Health, National Institutes of Health, Ministry of Health Malaysia, Setia Alam, Selangor, Malaysia
PLoS One, 2023;18(1):e0264593.
PMID: 36649298 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0264593


INTRODUCTION: Polysubstance use is the use of more than one non-prescribed licit or illicit substance at one time. This is a common phenomenon, but little is known about the severity and the various substances used by adults in Malaysia.

OBJECTIVE: To determine the pattern of polysubstance use and its associated factors among general adults in Malaysia.

METHODOLOGY: This was a secondary data analysis from the National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS) 2019), a cross-sectional population survey with a two-stage stratified random sampling design. A total of 10,472 Malaysians aged 18 years and above participated in this survey. Polysubstance use was defined as concurrent use of more than one substance, either alcohol, tobacco, or drugs (opioids, marijuana, amphetamine/ methamphetamine or kratom). A latent class analysis (LCA) was used to identify the membership of polysubstance groups. The association of class membership with demographic profiles was examined using Multinomial Logistic Regression analysis.

RESULTS: Fit indices (AIC = 16458.9, BIC = 16443.6) from LCA supported 3 classes solution: Class 1; "moderate-drug" group primarily combination used of tobacco and alcohol (2.4%), Class 2; "high-drug" group using multiple substance including kratom (0.3%) and Class 3; "low-drug" group reporting minimal alcohol and tobacco use or non-user (97.3%). The multinomial model showed young adults (18-40 years) had a higher likelihood of being polysubstance users both for moderate-drug class (OR = 4.1) and high-drug class (OR = 3.9) compared to older age (≥60 years). Chinese (OR = 18.9), Indian (OR = 23.3), Indigenous Sabah & Sarawak (OR = 34.6) and others ethnicity (OR = 8.9) showed higher odds of being moderate-drug users than Malays. The greater odds of moderate-drug use for males (OR = 35.5), working groups (OR = 1.5) and low education level group (OR = 3.2).

CONCLUSION: Our study highlights patterns and demographics related to the use of polysubstances among adults in Malaysia. These results would help formulate specific prevention programmes for these high-risk groups.

* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.