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Adults who Smoke Marijuana have a higher risk of Alcohol Abuse, Study Says

Update Date: Feb 17, 2016 11:35 AM EST

Adults who smoke marijuana are more likely to have an alcohol use disorder (AUD), a new study is reporting.

"Our results suggest that cannabis use appears to be associated with an increased vulnerability to developing an alcohol use disorder, even among those without any history of this," Renee Goodwin, PhD, associate professor of Epidemiology at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, said reported by Medical Xpress. "Marijuana use also appears to increase the likelihood that an existing alcohol use disorder will continue over time."

For this study, the team examined data on 27,461 adults who participated in the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions. The participants who used marijuana during the initial assessment did not have an AUD, which includes alcohol abuse or dependence. Their marijuana and alcohol use were also tracked three years later.

The researchers found that adults who had used reported using marijuana during the first assessment and had continued using it three years later were 23 percent more likely to have had developed an AUD. Adults who did not use cannabis had a five percent risk of developing an AUD three years later.

The researchers noted that adults who did not use marijuana but had a drinking problem were more likely to be in recovery for their AUD during the second assessment.

Goodwin concluded, based on the findings that more studies should be conducted "to understand the pathways underlying these relationships as well as the degree to which various potentially vulnerable population subgroups - youth, for example - are at increased risk."

The study's findings were published in the journal, Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

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