Category: Addictive Behaviors
Although extensive research has examined alcohol use among 4-year college students, considerably less is known about substance use patterns of alcohol, marijuana, and simultaneous alcohol and marijuana use (SAM). Further, despite findings that alcohol use is greater among 4-year students compared to 2-year community college students, substance use patterns among community college students have not been investigated. Previous studies have examined either alcohol use only or marijuana use only, with results indicating classes of non-use to heavy daily users. This study will extend previous research by examining alcohol use, marijuana use, and SAM patterns across two distinct educational levels: 4-year college students and 2-year community college students. Demographic characteristics and social role predictors of the classes were also examined.
Participants were 526 young adults (ages 18-25; n = 355 4-year college students; n = 171 community college students) participating in a larger longitudinal study of monthly assessments related to alcohol use and life transitions. Latent class analysis (LCA) was used to identify classes of alcohol, marijuana, and SAM use among the education levels.
Among 4-year students, a four-class solution yielded the best-fitting model [No alcohol/no marijuana (9%); Light alcohol only (26%); Heavy alcohol/light marijuana/SAM (32%); Heavy alcohol only (33%)]. Among 2-year students, a four-class solution also yielded the best-fitting model, although classes tended to include greater marijuana use and less alcohol use compared to the 4-year students [No alcohol/no marijuana (26%); Light alcohol only (39%); Heavy alcohol/heavy marijuana/SAM (27%); Light alcohol/heavy marijuana/no SAM (8%]. Among both 2- and 4-year students, there were no differences in class membership based on age, employment status, and job status. Among 4-year students, females were more likely to be in the “No alcohol/no marijuana” and “light alcohol only” classes.
Classes of alcohol, marijuana, and SAM differed by education level, with 4-year students belonging to latent classes defined by heavy alcohol use and 2-year students in classes defined by heavy marijuana use. Prevention/intervention efforts centered towards 4-year students may need to be tailored for the unique substance use patterns of 2-year students.