Inclusion of Cannabis Users in Alcohol Research Samples: Screening In, Screening Out, and Implications.

Alcohol Alcohol. 2020 Apr 24;:

Authors: Venegas A, Meredith LR, Cooper ZD, Towns B, Ray LA

BACKGROUND: Alcohol and cannabis are frequently co-used, as 20-50% of those who drink alcohol report co-using cannabis. This study is based on the argument that alcohol researchers should enroll cannabis users in human laboratory studies of alcohol use disorder (AUD) to strengthen generalizability. This study examines how heavy drinking cannabis users differ from non-cannabis using heavy drinkers.
METHODS: In a community sample of non-treatment-seeking heavy drinkers (n = 551, 35% female), cannabis users were identified through: (a) self-reported cannabis use in the past 6 months and (b) positive urine toxicology test for tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Cannabis users, identified as described previously, were compared with non-cannabis users on demographic and clinical characteristics.
RESULTS: Those who endorsed cannabis use in the past 6 months reported more binge drinking days. Participants who tested positive for THC had higher Alcohol Use Disorder Identification Test scores and more binge drinking days. Younger age and being a tobacco smoker were associated with an increased likelihood of cannabis use in the past 6 months, whereas male gender and being a tobacco use were associated with a greater likelihood of testing positive for THC. Individuals with cannabis use disorder (CUD) endorsed more depression and anxiety and had higher AUD symptom counts than cannabis users without CUD.
CONCLUSIONS: The inclusion of cannabis users in AUD samples allows for increased clinical severity. Excluding cannabis users from AUD studies may limit representativeness and expend unnecessary study resources. Lastly, tobacco use may explain a large portion of the effects of cannabis use on sample characteristics.
SHORT SUMMARY: Alcohol and cannabis are frequently co-used substances. In a sample of non-treatment-seeking heavy drinkers (n = 551, 35% female), cannabis users reported higher alcohol use and higher likelihood of tobacco use than non-cannabis users. Including cannabis users in alcohol research studies will improve representativeness and likely increase clinical severity.

PMID: 32328657 [PubMed – as supplied by publisher]

Source: ncbi 2

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