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Motives for simultaneous alcohol and marijuana use among young adults

It is already known that many young adults in the U.S. use alcohol and some use marijuana. The risks of these two substances is increased when the two are used together in young adults. This study looks at alcohol and marijuana use in a sample of 778 participants (ages 18-23) in Seattle over 24 months. The researchers where trying to find motives in young adults for co-using these substances. If the motives are known, preventions and interventions can be targeted towards them to better help this population.

To find the answer to this question, researchers surveyed the participants to get a better understanding of their marijuana and alcohol use. They asked questions about alcohol and marijuana use (including the reasons behind it), simultaneous alcohol and marijuana use, number of drinks per week, and alcohol and marijuana consequences. A lot of data was obtained from these questions. The researchers found that alcohol motives included enhancement and social reasons. For marijuana, the highest motives were enjoyment, availability, and altered perception. Another interesting finding was that simultaneous use motives were found to be associated with marijuana use and consequences from the use, but not necessarily alcohol use or its consequences.

Four factors were found that described the participants motives for simultaneous use. These were conformity (“to fit in with a group I like”), positive effects (“to get a better high”), calm/coping (“to cope with anxiety”), and social (“because it is customary on special occasions”). Another interesting finding was that motives for simultaneous use were not the same motives as either alcohol or marijuana use motives. By knowing these motives, providers and counselors can provide targeted prevention and interventions to young adults. It has already been found that young adults show peak lifetime levels of substance use during this time. Because of this, it is imperative that resources are provided to these individuals about the risk surrounding using these substances. When the motives are known, the resources can be better targeted to provide the most help for these individuals.

Take Away: Young adults are known for using alcohol and marijuana. This study looks at the motives behind using these substances separate along with together. 778 participants where surveyed over 24 months. Questions were asked to get an understanding behind the motives for using these substances. Researchers found four motives specific to simultaneous use of marijuana and alcohol. These included conformity, positive effects, calm/coping, and social. By knowing this, resources can be better targeted towards the motives to provide prevention and intervention of this risky substance use.

Patrick, M. E., Fairlie, A. M., & Lee, C. M. (2018). Motives for simultaneous alcohol and marijuana use among young adults. Addictive Behaviors, 76, 363–369. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2017.08.027

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