Sunday, December 27, 2015

Adverse Psychosocial Outcomes Associated with Drug Use among US High School Seniors: A Comparison of Alcohol & Marijuana

There is debate about whether marijuana (cannabis) use is more dangerous than alcohol use. Although difficult to make objective comparisons, research is needed to compare relative dangers in order to help inform preventive efforts and policy.

Data were analyzed from a nationally representative sample of high school seniors in the Monitoring the Future study (2007–2011; Weighted n = 7437; modal age: 18) who reported lifetime use of alcohol or marijuana. Students were asked to indicate whether they experienced various adverse psychosocial outcomes resulting from use of each substance. We examined which outcomes were more prevalent for each substance.

Compared to alcohol use, marijuana use was more commonly reported to compromise relationships with teachers or supervisors, result in less energy or interest, and result in lower school or job performance. Compared to marijuana use, alcohol was more commonly reported to compromise relationships with friends and significant others; it was also reported to lead to more regret (particularly among females), and driving unsafely. Marijuana users were more likely to report no adverse outcomes. Females and white students were more likely to report various adverse outcomes and higher frequency use of each substance also increased occurrences of reported adverse outcomes.

Marijuana and alcohol are associated with unique adverse psychosocial outcomes. Outcomes differ by sex and race/ethnicity, and perception or experience of outcomes may also be related to legal status and associated stigma. Public health interventions may be more effective by focusing on harm reduction strategies for these drug-specific outcomes.

Table 6

Comparison of adverse outcomes resulting from use of alcohol and marijuana by sex.

Male %
(n = 3348)
Female %
(n = 3564)
χ2rsMale %
(n = 2209)
Female %
(n = 2084)
Caused you to behave in ways that you later regretted31.441.961.4***
Hurt your relationship with your parents8.813.023.4***12.313.20.5
Hurt your relationship with your spouse, fiancée, or girlfriend/boyfriend9.615.642.9*****
Hurt your relationships with your friends6.711.739.1***6.810.312.8**
Hurt your relationships with teachers or supervisors1.*
Involved you with people you think are a bad influence on you8.915.148.9***17.624.422.0***
Hurt your performance in school and/or on the job4.66.58.610.011.21.1
Caused you to be less interested in other activities than you were before3.66.421.3***10.314.010.5*
Caused you to be less stable emotionally4.113.7159.5***4.69.933.5***
Caused you to have less energy7.19.38.817.925.628.8***
Interfered with your ability to think clearly18.826.645.9***17.925.024.8***
Had other bad psychological effects1.73.822.4******
Caused your physical health to be bad3.25.313.7**
Caused you to drive unsafely9.
Gotten you into trouble with the police6.
Caused you none of the above problems11.811.60.115.712.47.3
Rao-Scott Chi-squares each contain 1 degree of freedom. Utilizing the Bonferroni correction,
*p < 0.003,
**p < 0.001,
***p < 0.0001.

Full article at:

By:   Joseph J. Palamar, PhD, MPH,1,2,3 Michael Fenstermaker, BA,4 Dimitra Kamboukos, PhD,1 Danielle C. Ompad, PhD,2,3,5 Charles M. Cleland, PhD,3,6 and Michael Weitzman, MD4
1New York University Langone Medical Center, Department of Population Health, New York
2Center for Health, Identity, Behavior, and Prevention Studies, New York University, New York, USA
3Center for Drug Use & HIV Research, New York University, New York, USA
4Departments of Pediatrics and Environmental Medicine, New York University, New York, USA
5Department of Nutrition, Food Studies and Public Health, Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development, New York University, New York, USA
6College of Nursing, New York University, New York, USA
Address correspondence to Joseph J. Palamar, One Park Avenue, 7th Floor, New York, NY 10016, USA. Tel: +1 646 754 4980. Fax: +1 646 754 5209. Email: gro.cmuyn@ramalap.hpesoj

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