Background: Marijuana use during adolescence has various adverse psychological and health outcomes. It is poorly understood whether the same risk factors influence different stages in the development of marijuana involvement.
Objective: To establish which risk factors best explain different stages of marijuana involvement.
Design: Data were collected at 2 points using computer-assisted personal interview (wave 1 and wave 2 were separated by 1 year). Twenty-one well-established risk factors of adolescent substance use/abuse were used to predict 5 stages of marijuana involvement: (1) initiation of experimental use, (2) initiation of regular use, (3) progression to regular use, (4) failure to discontinue experimental use, and (5) failure to discontinue regular use. Data were analyzed using logistic regression analysis.
Participants: Middle school and high school students (N = 13 718, aged 11-21 years) participating in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health).
Results: Three risk factors (own and peer involvement with substances, delinquency, and school problems) were the strongest predictors of all stages. Their combined presence greatly increased risk of initiation of experimental (odds ratio, 20) and regular (odds ratio, 87) marijuana use over the next year. Personality, family, religious, and pastime factors exerted stage-specific, sex-specific, and age-specific influences.
Conclusions: Assessment of substance, school, and delinquency factors is important in identifying individuals at high risk for continued involvement with marijuana. Prevention and/or intervention efforts should focus on these areas of risk.