Featured Article: LCA of Why Young Adults Use Marijuana and Why Their Reasons Matters

March 9, 2017:smoke--marijuana

As state laws regarding marijuana change around the nation, legislators and the public need information about the impacts of marijuana use. Research has shown that smoking marijuana in order to cope with problems is associated with later marijuana-related problems (Fox et al., 2011). In a recent article in Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, a team of researchers including Methodology Center Associate Director Bethany Bray examined data on self-reported motives for using marijuana during young adulthood and then determined which motivational profiles were associated with later marijuana use and problems.

In the article, “Reasons for marijuana use among young adults and long-term associations with marijuana use and problems,” the authors applied latent class analysis (LCA) to a sample from the long-running Monitoring the Future study. The sub-sample included participants who provided marijuana use data at age 19 or 20 and again at age 35. The analysis revealed five classes of motives for using marijuana in young adulthood: Experimental Reasons, Get High and Relax Reasons, Typical Reasons, Typical and Escape Reasons, and Coping and Drug Effect Reasons. “Typical” reasons included “to feel good or get high,” “to have a good time with my friends,” “to experiment,” and “to relax.” When looking at the association between class membership in young adulthood and later problems, the authors found that members of the Experimental Reasons class were the least likely to use marijuana at age 35. Members of the Get High and Relax Reasons and Coping and Drug Effect Reasons classes were most likely to use marijuana and have problems with marijuana use at age 35.

Co-author Bethany Bray said, “Because individuals may hold multiple reasons for marijuana use simultaneously, methods like LCA can provide unique information about how reasons cluster within individuals and which patterns confer the greatest risk for later problems. Our findings support the need for motivation-based interventions that can be targeted and adapted based on salient reasons for use among young adults.”

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Patrick, M. E., Bray, B. C., & Berglund, P. A. (2016). Reasons for marijuana use among young adults and long-term associations with marijuana use and problems. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 77(6), 881-888.

Fox, C. L., Towe, S. L., Stephens, R. S., Walker, D. D., & Roffman, R. A. (2011). Motives for cannabis use in high-risk adolescent users. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 25, 492–500. doi:10.1037/a0024331

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