Young people are choosing marijuana before cigarettes and alcohol

May 17, 2018, Springer

More young people are turning to marijuana as their first substance of choice, rather than smoking cigarettes or drinking alcohol. This pattern is especially prevalent among young men of specific racial and ethnic groups in the US, says Brian Fairman of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in the US, in Springer's journal Prevention Science. He says that young people who start off on marijuana before alcohol or tobacco are more likely to become heavy users and have cannabis-related problems later in life.

The research team analyzed nationally-representative, cross-sectional survey data available as part of the US National Survey on Drug Use and Health. This data draws on information from more than 275,500 individuals aged 12 to 21 and was collected between 2004 and 2014. Survey respondents were asked about their use of marijuana, , alcohol, and other forms of tobacco or illegal drugs. Those who used these substances provided further information about which they started using first, and at what age.

The researchers found that 8 per cent of participants reported in 2014 that marijuana was the first drug they ever used. This percentage had almost doubled from 4.8 per cent in 2004. According to Fairman, this could be related to a concurrent decline in those who start first, which dropped from about 21 per cent in 2004 to 9 per cent in 2014.

"We also observed a significant increase in youth abstaining from substance use altogether, which rose from 36 per cent to 46 per cent, and therefore, it is unclear the degree to which increases in those initiating marijuana first could be due to youth abstaining or delaying cigarettes," says Fairman.

Fairman and his colleagues further found that those using marijuana first, rather than alcohol or cigarettes, were more likely to be male, and Black, American Indian/Alaskan Native, multiracial, or Hispanic. The researchers established that youths who used marijuana first were more likely to become heavy users later in life, and to develop a cannabis use disorder.

"Our findings suggest important targets for and prevention of marijuana use, especially among American Indian/Alaska Native and Black youth, who are less likely to have access to treatment or successful treatment outcomes," says Fairman, who believes that drug prevention strategies could be improved by targeting to groups differently, based on their risk of initiating tobacco, alcohol, or marijuana first.

"To the degree these trends continue and greater numbers of youth start with marijuana as their first drug, there may be an increasing need for public interventions and treatment services for -related problems," Fairman explains.

Explore further: Could vaping lead teens to pot smoking?

More information: Brian J. Fairman et al, When Marijuana Is Used before Cigarettes or Alcohol: Demographic Predictors and Associations with Heavy Use, Cannabis Use Disorder, and Other Drug-related Outcomes, Prevention Science (2018). DOI: 10.1007/s11121-018-0908-3

Related Stories

Could vaping lead teens to pot smoking?

April 23, 2018
(HealthDay)—Teens who use e-cigarettes may be more likely to try marijuana in the future, especially if they start vaping at a younger age, a new study shows.

Marijuana may lead non-smokers to cigarettes

March 27, 2018
While cigarette smoking has long been on the decline, marijuana use is on the rise and, disproportionately, marijuana users also smoke cigarettes. A new study by researchers at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public ...

Viewing more medical marijuana ads linked to higher pot use among adolescents

May 17, 2018
Adolescents who view more advertising for medical marijuana are more likely to use marijuana, express intentions to use the drug and have more-positive expectations about the substance, according to a new RAND Corporation ...

For young adults, cigarettes more pleasurable with alcohol than with pot

April 18, 2017
Young adults get more pleasure from smoking cigarettes while they are drinking alcohol than they do while using marijuana, according to a new UC San Francisco study.

Recent study in Oregon reveals public considers alcohol more harmful than marijuana

February 7, 2018
As the national conversation about marijuana legalization continues, an important question is how changing marijuana policy may influence use of other substances, such as alcohol. A new study, led by researchers at RTI International, ...

Study finds prenatal marijuana use can affect infant size, behavior

May 10, 2018
Smoking during pregnancy has well-documented negative effects on birth weight in infants and is linked to several childhood health problems. Now, researchers at the University at Buffalo Research Institute on Addictions have ...

Recommended for you

Self-lubricating latex could boost condom use: study

October 17, 2018
A perpetually unctuous, self-lubricating latex developed by a team of scientists in Boston could boost the use of condoms, they reported Wednesday in the journal Royal Society Open Science.

How healthy will we be in 2040?

October 17, 2018
A new scientific study of forecasts and alternative scenarios for life expectancy and major causes of death in 2040 shows all countries are likely to experience at least a slight increase in lifespans. In contrast, one scenario ...

Study finds evidence of intergenerational transmission of trauma among ex-POWs from the Civil War

October 16, 2018
A trio of researchers affiliated with the National Bureau of Economic Research has found evidence that suggests men who were traumatized while POWs during the U.S. Civil War transmitted that trauma to their offspring—many ...

Father's nicotine use can cause cognitive problems in children and grandchildren

October 16, 2018
A father's exposure to nicotine may cause cognitive deficits in his children and even grandchildren, according to a study in mice publishing on October 16 in the open-access journal PLOS Biology by Pradeep Bhide of Florida ...

Many supplements contain unapproved, dangerous ingredients: study

October 13, 2018
(HealthDay)—U.S. health officials have issued more than 700 warnings during the last decade about the sale of dietary supplements that contain unapproved and potentially dangerous drug ingredients, new research reveals.

Age at which women experience their first period is linked to their sons' age at puberty

October 12, 2018
The age at which young women experience their first menstrual bleeding is linked to the age at which their sons start puberty, according to the largest study to investigate this association in both sons and daughters.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.