Comorbidity and temporal relations of alcohol and cannabis use disorders from youth through adulthood

Susan C Duncan, Jeff M Gau, Richard F Farmer, John R Seeley, Derek B Kosty, Peter M Lewinsohn
Drug and Alcohol Dependence 2015 April 1, 149: 80-6

BACKGROUND: Alcohol and cannabis are among the most widely used and abused drugs in industrialized societies. Investigations of patterns in comorbidity and temporal sequencing between alcohol use disorders (AUDs) and cannabis use disorders (CUDs) from childhood to adulthood are important for understanding the etiologies of these disorders.

METHODS: The sample comprised 816 individuals (59% male, 89% white). Dichotomous measures indicated whether or not a participant was in an AUD or CUD episode during three developmental periods-youth (childhood through adolescence), early adulthood, and adulthood. Structural equation modeling was used to determine relations between AUDs and CUDs across the three developmental periods, and to test for gender differences.

RESULTS: Concurrent associations between AUD and CUD were significant. Both AUD and CUD in previous developmental periods significantly predicted the same substance disorders in subsequent periods. Cross-lagged paths from youth AUD to young adult CUD and youth CUD to young adult AUD were both significant. However, only the cross-lagged path from youth CUD to adult AUD was significant. The cross-lagged paths from young adult AUD to adult CUD and young adult CUD to adult AUD were both nonsignificant. Males and females were mostly similar with only three differences found between genders.

CONCLUSIONS: Comorbidity of AUDs and CUDs was evident from youth through adulthood but the strength of the relationship lessened in adulthood. Temporal sequencing influences of AUDs and CUDs on each other were similar in youth and adulthood but not young adulthood. Same substance stability was greatest in adulthood.

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