Research & Resources

Using Young Adult Language to Describe the Effects of Simultaneous Alcohol and Marijuana Use: Implications for Assessment

To better understand reasons for engaging in simultaneous alcohol and marijuana (SAM) use and to refine the measurement of subjective effects of SAM use, this study aimed to identify how young adults describe subjective experiences during SAM use and how language describing subjective effects changes as a function of the level of substance use. Using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk (MTurk) crowdsourcing website, 323 participants who reported past-month heavy episodic drinking and past-month SAM use were asked to list words to describe how they feel when using only alcohol, only marijuana, and various combinations of alcohol and marijuana. SAM use language varied as a function of age and substance use behavior, but was not associated with sex or race. Large differences in the terms used to describe subjective effects were observed when comparing different combinations of alcohol and marijuana use; most notably, the term “cross-faded” appeared when engaging at the heaviest combinations of alcohol and marijuana. These findings show that young adults have a wide range of vocabulary for describing subjective effects of SAM use, and that subjective effects vary as a function of the level of each substance used. Future research should consider integrating such contemporary language when measuring subjective effects of SAM use.

This paper, “Using young adult language to describe the effects of simultaneous alcohol and marijuana use: Implications for assessment,” was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) and published in the journal Substance use & misuse.

Link to full item