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Marijuana use and service utilization among adolescents 7 years post substance use treatment

In an environment of increasingly liberal attitudes towards marijuana use and legalization, little is known about long-term trajectories of marijuana use among clinical samples of adolescents, and how these trajectories relate to health services utilization over time. Latent growth curve analysis was used to identify distinct trajectories of marijuana use in a clinical sample of adolescents (N=391) over 7 years post substance use treatment in an integrated health system. We examined psychiatric problems and polysubstance use associated with the identified trajectory groups using general linear models. Nonlinear mixed-effects logistic regressions were used to examine associations between health services use and the trajectory groups. We identified three marijuana use trajectory groups: (1) Abstinent (n=117); (2) Low/Stable use (n=174); and (3) Increasing use (n=100). Average externalizing and anxiety/depression scores were significantly lower over time for the Abstinent group compared to the Increasing and Low/Stable groups. The Low Stable and the Increasing group had fewer psychiatric visits over time (p<0.05) and the Low/Stable group used more substance use treatment services over time compared with the Abstinent group (p<0.001). Treated adolescents showed distinct marijuana use patterns, one of which indicated a group of adolescents at risk of increased use over time. These individuals have greater psychiatric and polysubstance use over time, but may not be accessing needed services.

Authors: Campbell CI; Sterling S; Chi FW; Kline-Simon AH

Drug Alcohol Depend. 2016 Nov 01;168:1-7. Epub 2016-08-23.

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