Addictions, Drug & Alcohol Institute

New from ADAI: Using Alcohol & Cannabis Simultaneously More Harmful for Youth Than Use of Either Alone

Image of young woman using cannabis and alcohol with text: New from CSHRB & ADAI: Simultaneous alcohol and marijuana use among young adults: a scoping review...

Using alcohol and cannabis simultaneously – taking them at the same time to generate overlapping effects – produces greater negative consequences than use of either substance alone, according to this new scoping review published in Alcohol Research: Current Reviews.

For this review, researchers from the UW Center for the Study of Health and Risk Behaviors (CSHRB) partnered with ADAI information specialist Meg Brunner to find and describe research on simultaneous use of alcohol and cannabis by youth and young adults.

The literature on this subject has expanded rapidly, with the majority of papers included in the review published in the last 5 years. The review highlights some important findings:

  • simultaneous use of alcohol and cannabis is prevalent – and growing – among young adults, especially those who engage in heavier and more frequent use of both substances
  • enhancement-related motives were a common reason for simultaneous use: youth reported that use of the two substances at the same time enhanced their positive effects
  • simultaneous use was associated with greater perceived positive (e.g., enhanced effect, social benefits) AND negative consequences (e.g., blackouts, risky driving, health consequences) of alcohol and/or cannabis use

This paper is the first scoping review published by ARCR.

Citation: Lee CM, et al. Simultaneous alcohol and marijuana use among young adults: A scoping review of prevalence, patterns, psychosocial correlates, and consequences. Alcohol Research: Current Reviews 2022; 42(1).