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Marijuana Smokers Five Times More Likely To Develop Alcohol Disorder

First Posted: Feb 17, 2016 12:08 PM EST

Researchers found that adults who use marijuana are five times more likely to develop an alcohol use disorder compared to adults who do not use marijuana. In this new study, the researchers also found that adults with an alcohol use disorder, who use marijuana, could expect the problem to continue.

"Our results suggest that cannabis use appears to be associated with an increased vulnerability to developing an alcohol use disorder, even among those without any history of this," Renee Goodwin, coauthor of the study, said in a news release. "Marijuana use also appears to increase the likelihood that an existing alcohol use disorder will continue over time."

The team examined data from 27,461 adults enrolled in the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions, who first used marijuana at a time when they no history of alcohol abuse or dependence. The researchers found that adults who used marijuana for the first time and continued using the drug in the following three years (23 percent) were five times more likely to develop an alcohol disorder, compared to those who did not used marijuana (five percent).

"From a public health standpoint we recommend that further research be conducted to understand the pathways underlying these relationships...If future research confirms these findings, investigating whether preventing or delaying first use of marijuana might reduce the risk of developing alcohol use disorders among some segments of the population may be worthwhile," Goodwin said.

The findings of this study were published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

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