Simultaneous Versus Concurrent Use of Alcohol and Cannabis in the National Alcohol Survey

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Abstract

Background:

Cannabis is the most commonly used drug among those who drink, yet no study has directly compared those who use cannabis and alcohol simultaneously versus concurrently (i.e., separately) in the adult general population. Here, we assess differences in demographics, alcohol-related social consequences, harms to self, and drunk driving across simultaneous, concurrent, and alcohol-only using groups.

Methods:

Secondary analyses of the 2005 and 2010 National Alcohol Survey (N = 8,626; 4,522 female, 4,104 male), a Computer Assisted Telephone Interview survey of individuals aged 18 and older from all 50 states and DC. Blacks and Hispanics are over-sampled. Data were collected using list-assisted Random Digit Dialing. Multinomial and multivariable logistic regressions were used for analyses.

Results:

The prevalence of simultaneous use was almost twice as high as concurrent use, implying that individuals who use both cannabis and alcohol tend to use them at the same time. Furthermore, simultaneous use was associated with increased frequency and quantity of alcohol use. Simultaneous use was also the most detrimental: compared to alcohol only, simultaneous use approximately doubled the odds of drunk driving, social consequences, and harms to self. The magnitudes of differences in problems remained when comparing drunk driving among simultaneous users to concurrent users.

Conclusions:

The overall set of results is particularly important to bear in mind when studying and/or treating problems among alcohol/cannabis co-users because they demonstrate that in the general population, co-users are a heterogeneous group who experience different likelihoods of problems relative to co-use patterns.

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