Simultaneous Use of Alcohol and Marijuana: Patterns and Individual Differences

Ashley N. Linden-Carmichael, Amy L. Stamates, Cathy Lau-Barraco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations


Background: Simultaneous alcohol and marijuana (SAM) use, or using alcohol and marijuana in such a way that their effects overlap, is associated with negative health and behavioral outcomes. Objectives: Our study sought to fill gaps in our knowledge on this emerging public health concern by comparing SAM users and alcohol-only users on individual-level factors and substance use outcomes as well as examining associations of SAM use frequency, within users. Methods: Participants were recruited through online postings. Our analytic sample consisted of 1017 young adults (18–25 years) who reported past-month alcohol use. Most were male (67.8%), Caucasian (71.5%), and had attended at least some college (74.8%). Results: Past-year SAM users reported higher levels of sensation seeking and greater perceptions of their close friends’ drinking behavior in comparison to alcohol-only users. SAM users reported heavier and more frequent alcohol use than alcohol-only users. Within past-year SAM users, 70% reported SAM use at least weekly. More frequent SAM use was associated with all alcohol use outcomes (e.g., weekly quantity, frequency, alcohol-related problems) and marijuana use outcomes (e.g., quantity, frequency, peak use) and higher drinking norms. Conclusions/Importance: It is clear that SAM users are a vulnerable sub-population of young adult drinkers. SAM users are differentiated from alcohol-only users in terms of their personality characteristics and perceptions of peer groups’ drinking. SAM users and more frequent users are also at heightened risk for substance use outcomes. Prevention and intervention efforts targeting high-risk drinking may benefit from also assessing whether they simultaneously use alcohol and marijuana.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2156-2166
Number of pages11
JournalSubstance Use and Misuse
Issue number13
StatePublished - Nov 10 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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