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Cannabis Use Linked to Increased Alcohol Use Disorders According to Just-Published Research by Queens College Professor

FLUSHING, NY, February 23, 2016 – Alcohol use-related disease and accidents are among the leading causes of death in the United States. That fact, coupled with states’ growing legalization of medical marijuana makes some new research particularly timely: On February 11, the professional journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence published findings of a study showing that cannabis use was associated with an increased incidence of alcohol use disorders (AUD) three years later among those who didn’t have an alcohol problem to begin with. And for those who did have an alcohol problem, their use of cannabis predicted that the alcohol disorder would persist.

The research and journal article were the work of three scientists: Renee D. Goodwin, Department of Psychology of Queens College and The Graduate Center, City University of New York; Andrea H. Weinberger, Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology, Yeshiva University and the Department of Epidemiology and Population Health, Albert Einstein College of Medicine; and Jonathan Platt, Department of Epidemiology, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University.

The study used data from over 34,000 civilian, non-institutionalized adults who participated in two “waves” of the National Epidemiological Study of Alcohol Use and Related Disorders over a three-year period. The data was weighted according to the demographic distribution of the U.S. population based on the 2000 U.S. census. Participants who received a diagnosis of either alcohol abuse or alcohol dependence were classified as having an AUD.

“The results from this study suggest a significant relationship between cannabis use and subsequent risk of alcohol use disorders for adults without a past AUD and risk of continued AUD for adults with an alcohol use disorder,” the scientists wrote. “…From a clinical perspective, it may be useful for cannabis treatment programs to consider assessing and monitoring problematic alcohol use as well as integrating topics related to alcohol (for example, reasons for use, methods to decrease or stop use) into their programs.”

Professor Goodwin, a member of the full-time Psychology department faculty at Queens College, earned her PhD from Northwestern University. A clinical psychologist, she is interested in understanding the risk factors for substance use including nicotine dependence and marijuana use disorders over the life course. She has published many articles in psychology journals and her professional memberships include the American Psychopathological Association, American
Psychological Association, Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco and Society of Behavioral Medicine.
 
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