Category: Addictive Behaviors
Substance use is a major concern on college campuses nationwide. Alcohol has a considerable presence among college age young adults, with approximately 60% reporting alcohol use within the last 30 days, and one in five college age young adults reporting marijuana use (Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, 2015). However, as marijuana gains legal status, there is concern that marijuana use may increase or be substituted for alcohol use (Guttmannova et al., 2016). Furthermore, young adults may report different motives for using alcohol versus marijuana. In order to understand substance use patterns for alcohol and marijuana use in states where marijuana has legal status, motivations for use must be examined. The current study examined the prevalence of, motives, and problems associated with alcohol and marijuana use among 575 college undergraduate students (Mage = 20.3, SDage = 2.3, 80.5% female) at a private Christian university in Washington State, where marijuana was legalized in 2012. Participants completed an anonymous online survey that assessed frequency, motives, and problems associated with alcohol and marijuana use. Participants reported lifetime use: 74.8% reported alcohol use and 26.8% reported marijuana use. In the past 30 days, 47.0% reported alcohol and 12.7% reported marijuana use. Participants also reported dual use of both alcohol and marijuana in their lifetime (26.3%) and recently (in the past 30 days; 11.7%). Results indicated that for recent dual users, participants reported higher motives for enhancement concerning marijuana use compared to alcohol use (t = 3.93, p < .001). Conversely, recent dual users reported higher motives for conformity (t = -3.04, p = .003) and social facilitation (t = -8.73, p < .001) for alcohol use compared to marijuana use. Interestingly, there were no differences in motives for alcohol versus marijuana for coping for recent dual users. Recent dual users reported more problems related to alcohol (t[76.17] = -3.72, p < .001) compared to alcohol only users; however, recent dual users reported no difference between their problems related to alcohol or marijuana. This study indicates that among college undergraduate dual users, alcohol use is related to more interpersonal motives (social and conformity motives), versus the intrapersonal motives (enhancement motives) of marijuana use. Additionally, recent dual users reported significantly more problems related to alcohol use compared to those who only used alcohol, indicating an added impact on impairment related to dual use. Further research is needed to understand how specific motives of use impact use patterns in order to inform interventions for students at colleges in states where marijuana has been legalized.