PurposeAlcohol and cannabis are the two most commonly used substances by young people in many developed nations. The purpose of this paper is to explore the longitudinal relationships between risky substance use (binge drinking and cannabis use) and psychological distress, emotional and behavioural difficulties, and truancy among Australian adolescents.Design/methodology/approachA total of 527 students (Mage=13.4 years, SD=0.43; 67 per cent female) from seven Australian schools completed an online self-report survey on four occasions over two years (baseline, 6, 12 and 24 months). The survey assessed binge drinking (5+ standard drinks on one occasion), cannabis use in the past six months, psychological distress, emotional and behavioural difficulties (Strength and Difficulties Questionnaire), and truancy. Generalised estimating equations (GEEs) were conducted to examine the longitudinal relationship between the substance use outcomes and each predictor variable.FindingsAt baseline, 3 per cent of students reported binge drinking and 6 per cent had used cannabis in the past six months. Rates of binge drinking significantly increased over time (21.1 per cent at 24 months) however, rates of cannabis use remained relatively stable (8.8 per cent at 24 months). Multivariate GEE analyses indicated that higher levels of hyperactivity/inattention, more days of truancy and being female were independently and consistently associated with binge drinking over time. Conduct problems was the only factor to be independently associated with cannabis use over time.Originality/valueThese findings provide valuable information about psychosocial risk factors for harmful alcohol and cannabis use. A better understanding of these associations is critical for informing substance use prevention efforts in the future.
Advances in Dual Diagnosis – Emerald Publishing
Published: Nov 20, 2017