Polytobacco, marijuana, and alcohol use patterns in college students: A latent class analysis

Addict Behav. 2016 Aug;59:58-64. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2016.03.034. Epub 2016 Apr 2.


Limited research has examined polysubstance use profiles among young adults focusing on the various tobacco products currently available. We examined use patterns of various tobacco products, marijuana, and alcohol using data from the baseline survey of a multiwave longitudinal study of 3418 students aged 18-25 recruited from seven U.S. college campuses. We assessed sociodemographics, individual-level factors (depression; perceptions of harm and addictiveness,), and sociocontextual factors (parental/friend use). We conducted a latent class analysis and multivariable logistic regression to examine correlates of class membership (Abstainers were referent group). Results indicated five classes: Abstainers (26.1% per past 4-month use), Alcohol only users (38.9%), Heavy polytobacco users (7.3%), Light polytobacco users (17.3%), and little cigar and cigarillo (LCC)/hookah/marijuana co-users (10.4%). The most stable was LCC/hookah/marijuana co-users (77.3% classified as such in past 30-day and 4-month timeframes), followed by Heavy polytobacco users (53.2% classified consistently). Relative to Abstainers, Heavy polytobacco users were less likely to be Black and have no friends using alcohol and perceived harm of tobacco and marijuana use lower. Light polytobacco users were older, more likely to have parents using tobacco, and less likely to have friends using tobacco. LCC/hookah/marijuana co-users were older and more likely to have parents using tobacco. Alcohol only users perceived tobacco and marijuana use to be less socially acceptable, were more likely to have parents using alcohol and friends using marijuana, but less likely to have friends using tobacco. These findings may inform substance use prevention and recovery programs by better characterizing polysubstance use patterns.

Keywords: Marijuana use; Risk factors; Substance use; Tobacco use; Young adults.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology*
  • Comorbidity
  • Female
  • Georgia
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Marijuana Smoking / epidemiology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Students / statistics & numerical data*
  • Tobacco Use / epidemiology*
  • Universities
  • Young Adult