Research & Resources

Who’s at Greatest Risk? Latent Profiles of Alcohol and Cannabis Use and Related Consequences Among College Students

This study examined college student subgroups with risky alcohol and cannabis use patterns. Participants were 2,423 college students recruited from seven U.S. universities who endorsed past-month alcohol and cannabis use and completed an online survey of substance use behaviors. Researchers divided the participants into four subgroups or profiles based on alcohol and cannabis use frequency and quantity, exploring demographic covariates and examining mean differences across subgroups on alcohol- and cannabis-related consequences, simultaneous use, and other substance use. Profile 1 represented “light, infrequent alcohol and cannabis use” (73.8%); Profile 2 represented “heavy, infrequent alcohol use and moderate, frequent cannabis use” (15.9%); Profile 3 represented “moderate, frequent alcohol and cannabis use” (5.6%); and Profile 4 represented “very heavy, frequent alcohol and cannabis use” (4.7%). Students who identified as male, non-Hispanic White, and/or Greek-affiliated were more likely to be in Profile 4. Profiles 3 and 4 represent high-risk profiles, with both having a higher likelihood of simultaneous use. Profile 3 endorses more cannabis consequences, while Profile 4 endorses more alcohol consequences. These results suggest that heavy alcohol use and heavy simultaneous use both heighten the risk for serious adverse consequences.

This paper, “Who’s at greatest risk? Latent profiles of alcohol and cannabis use and related consequences among college students,” was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and published in the journal Addictive behaviors.

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