The developmental antecedents of illicit drug use: Evidence from a 25-year longitudinal study

Department of Psychological Medicine, University of Otago, Christchurch School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Christchurch 8140, New Zealand. <>
Drug and Alcohol Dependence (Impact Factor: 3.42). 07/2008; 96(1-2):165-77. DOI: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2008.03.003
Source: PubMed


The present study examined the developmental antecedents of illicit drug use and abuse/dependence.
A 25-year prospective longitudinal study of the health, development, and adjustment of a birth cohort of 1265 New Zealand children. Measures included assessments of adolescent and young adult illicit drug use and abuse/dependence; cannabis use to age 25; measures of parental adjustment; measures of exposure to childhood sexual abuse, physical abuse, and interparental violence; novelty-seeking; childhood and early adolescent adjustment and substance use; and affiliation with substance-using peers.
Illicit drug use and abuse/dependence from ages 16 to 25 were significantly associated (all p values<.05) with a range of parental adjustment measures; exposure to abuse in childhood; individual factors; and measures of childhood and early adolescent adjustment. Analyses using repeated measures logistic regression models suggested that parental illicit drug use, gender, novelty-seeking, and childhood conduct disorder predicted later illicit drug use and abuse/dependence. Further analyses revealed that these pathways to illicit drug use and abuse/dependence were mediated via cannabis use, affiliation with substance-using peers, and alcohol use during ages 16-25.
The current study suggested that the illicit drug use and abuse/dependence were associated with a range of early life circumstances and processes that put individuals at greater risk of illicit drug use and abuse/dependence. However, the use of cannabis in late adolescence and early adulthood emerged as the strongest risk factor for later involvement in other illicit drugs.

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Available from: David M Fergusson, Jan 22, 2016
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    • "For example, 68.8% of beer drinkers reported having used cannabis on some occasion, compared to 31.3% among those who did not drink beer (Table 3). In accordance with previous studies indicating that early onset of smoking and drinking increases the risk of subsequent use of cannabis or other drugs (Agrawal et al., 2010; Becoña et al., 2011; Fergusson, 2008; Korhonen et al., 2008; Prince van Leeuwen et al., 2011; Willner, 2001), our results show that tobacco and alcohol use were associated with cannabis use, as hypothesized. Adolescence is a critical developmental phase that opens a window of vulnerability, especially with regard to substance use. "
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    ABSTRACT: This article examined the relationship between cigarette smoking or alcohol consumption and cannabis use and problem gambling among a random and representative sample of 1447 Spanish adolescents (797 males and 650 females with an average age of 12.8 years). An ad hoc questionnaire was used to assess cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption (beer, wine and spirits) and cannabis use. Gambling was assessed with the South Oaks Gambling Screen Revised for Adolescents (SOGS-RA). Results indicated a positive and significant association between cigarette smoking and alcohol consumption and the two aforementioned variables. A larger percentage of cigarette smokers and drinkers was found among those participants who had consumed cannabis before or scored significantly in problem gambling. Additionally, multiple regression analysis confirmed that both cigarette smoking and alcohol consumption (beer and wine) were the most determinant variables for cannabis use and problem gambling.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2015 · Adicciones
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    • "Numerous studies have shown that underlying early drug use is a general, highly heritable predisposition to externalizing behaviors (Agrawal and Lynskey, 2006). At the same time, it has been suggested that although illicit drug use and dependence is associated with a range of early life circumstances that put individuals at greater risk, the use of cannabis in late adolescence emerge as the strongest risk factor for later illicit drug use (Fergusson et al., 2008). This is supported by twin studies, reporting early-onset cannabis users to be at two to four times greater risk of use of drugs such as cocaine, hallucinogens, sedatives and opioids and twice as likely as their co-twins to meet criteria for dependence "
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    ABSTRACT: Aims This study aimed at examining a possible association between cannabis use in adolescence and future disability pension (DP). DP can be granted to any person in Sweden aged 16 to 65 years if working capacity is judged to be permanently reduced due to long-standing illness or injury. Methods Data were obtained from a longitudinal cohort study comprising 49.321 Swedish men born in 1949-1951 who were conscripted to compulsory military service aged 18-20 years. Data on DP was collected from national registers. Results Results showed that individuals who used cannabis in adolescence had considerably higher rates of disability pension throughout the follow-up until 59 years of age. In Cox proportional-hazards regression analyses, adjustment for covariates (social background, mental health, physical fitness, risky alcohol use, tobacco smoking and illicit drug use) attenuated the associations. However, when all covariates where entered simultaneously, about a 30% increased hazard ratio of DP from 40 to 59 years of age still remained in the group reporting cannabis use more than 50 times. Conclusions This study shows that heavy cannabis use in late adolescence was associated with an increased relative risk of labor market exclusion through disability pension.
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2014 · Drug and Alcohol Dependence
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    • "Adolescent marijuana use is associated with neurobiological, psychosocial, and health-related measures including elevated levels of mood and anxiety disorders, externalizing behaviors, suicidality, and risk-taking behaviors (Dorard, Berthoz, Phan & Corcos, 2008; Medina, Nagel, Park, McQueeny & Tapert, 2007; Monshouwer et al., 2007; Pedersen, 2008; Schepis et al., 2011). Marijuana use during adolescence has been linked to neurocognitive deficits and development of mood, anxiety, psychotic, and non-marijuana SUDs (Di Forti, Morrison, Butt & Murray, 2007; Fergusson, Boden & Horwood, 2008; Georgiades & Boyle, 2007; Patton et al., 2007; Wittchen et al., 2007). Adolescent marijuana use is associated with deviant peer group affiliation, poorer grades, and increased rates of school dropout (Bray, Zarkin, Ringwalt & Qi, 2000; Brook, Stimmel, Zhang & Brook, 2008; Leatherdale, Hammond & Ahmed, 2008; Reboussin, Hubbard & Ialongo, 2007). "
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    ABSTRACT: Background and aims: Gambling is common in adolescents and at-risk and problem/pathological gambling (ARPG) is associated with adverse measures of health and functioning in this population. Although ARPG commonly co-occurs with marijuana use, little is known how marijuana use influences the relationship between problem-gambling severity and health- and gambling-related measures. Methods: Survey data from 2,252 Connecticut high school students were analyzed using chi-square and logistic regression analyses. Results: ARPG was found more frequently in adolescents with lifetime marijuana use than in adolescents denying marijuana use. Marijuana use was associated with more severe and a higher frequency of gambling-related behaviors and different motivations for gambling. Multiple health/functioning impairments were differentially associated with problem-gambling severity amongst adolescents with and without marijuana use. Significant marijuana-use-by-problem-gambling-severity-group interactions were observed for low-average grades (OR = 0.39, 95% CI = [0.20, 0.77]), cigarette smoking (OR = 0.38, 95% CI = [0.17, 0.83]), current alcohol use (OR = 0.36, 95% CI = [0.14, 0.91]), and gambling with friends (OR = 0.47, 95% CI = [0.28, 0.77]). In all cases, weaker associations between problem-gambling severity and health/functioning correlates were observed in the marijuana-use group as compared to the marijuana-non-use group. Conclusions: Some academic, substance use, and social factors related to problem-gambling severity may be partially accounted for by a relationship with marijuana use. Identifying specific factors that underlie the relationships between specific attitudes and behaviors with gambling problems and marijuana use may help improve intervention strategies.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2014 · Journal of Behavioural Addictions
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