Longitudinal modeling of transmissible risk in boys who subsequently develop cannabis use disorder

Levent Kirisci, Ralph E Tarter, Ty Ridenour, Maureen Reynolds, Michael Vanyukov
American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse 2013, 39 (3): 180-5

BACKGROUND: Risk for substance use disorder is frequently transmitted across generations due to significant heritability.

OBJECTIVE: This longitudinal study tests the hypothesis that initial exposure to cannabis in youths having high transmissible risk is a signal event promoting development of cannabis use disorder (CUD).

METHODS: At age 22, 412 men were classified into three groups: (1) lifetime CUD, (2) cannabis use without CUD, and (3) no lifetime cannabis use. Transmissible risk, quantified on a continuous scale using the previously validated transmissible liability index (TLI), along with cannabis use and CUD were documented at 10-12, 12-14, 16, 19, and 22 years of age.

RESULTS: The CUD group scored higher on the TLI before they began cannabis use compared to the other two groups. In addition, a progressive increase in TLI severity was evinced by the CUD group beginning at the time of initiation of cannabis use whereas cannabis users who did not subsequently develop CUD exhibited a decline in transmissible risk following first exposure.

CONCLUSION: Initial use of cannabis potentiates development of CUD in youths who are at high transmissible risk but is inconsequential in youths having low risk. The practical ramifications of these results for prevention are discussed.


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