UC study: Who is more likely to use marijuana?

Researchers at the UC Center for Prevention Science identify marijuana use factors

In a new study, researchers at the University of Cincinnati have identified some of the factors associated with the increased likelihood to use marijuana.

Rebecca Vidourek standing in the hall in front of a human services sign

Rebecca Vidourek, PhD, is an expert in child/adolescent health promotion and substance abuse prevention. Photo provided.

“With marijuana as the most commonly used drug across all populations, it is important to understand what factors place an individual at risk for use,” says Rebecca Vidourek, PhD, the study’s lead author and co-director of the UC Center for Prevention Science, part of the College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services.

In the study, Vidourek and the research team analyzed pooled data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health from 2015-2018.   

According to the study:

  • 18.5% of survey respondents used marijuana within the last 30 days.
  • Those most likely to use marijuana in the past 30 days were African American, multiracial, gay/lesbian and bisexual.
  • Individuals reporting poor health, no insurance coverage, prior drug use and thoughts about or planned suicides were at risk for recent marijuana use.
  • 14.7% of those who used marijuana also used alcohol and 1.5% also used cocaine.

The study’s co-author, Keith King, PhD, professor and director of the UC center, says that “the impending legalization of marijuana brings some concern for increased misuse and abuse.” 

There also needs to be a focus on polysubstance use, “given the harms associated with using drugs such as cocaine along with marijuana,” says co-author Andrew Yockey, PhD, the biostatistician who analyzed the data for the UC study while pursuing his doctoral degree in human services at UC. Yockey is now an assistant professor in the Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology at the University of North Texas Health Science Center.

While the team utilized research to identify the risk factors, their efforts also concentrated on education, preferably at an early age.

“It is possible some individuals are using marijuana to cope with suicidal thoughts and behaviors rather than seeking help, which means efforts to identify those who may be self-medicating with marijuana rather than seeking appropriate treatment are needed,” says Vidourek.

Featured image at top courtesy of Unsplash.

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