Cannabis leads to harder drug usage for Notts teens

Dr Michelle Taylor
Dr Michelle Taylor

Teenagers in Nottinghamshire who smoke cannabis are more likely to progress to harder drugs, a new study has found.

Researchers from the University of Bristol have found regular and occasional cannabis use as a teen is associated with a greater risk of taking other illicit drugs such as cocaine and speed in early adulthood.

The study by Bristol’s Population Health Science Institute, published online in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, also found cannabis use was associated with harmful drinking and smoking.

Using data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), the researchers looked at levels of cannabis use during adolescence to determine whether these might predict other substance misuse.

The researchers looked at data about cannabis use among 5,315 teens between the ages of 13 and 18. When the teens reached the age of 21, they were asked how much they smoked and drank, and whether they had taken other illicit drugs during the previous three months. Some 462 reported recent illicit drug use - 176 (38 per cent) had used cocaine; 278 (60 per cent) had used amphetamines; 136 (30 per cent) used inhalants; 72 (16 per cent) used sedatives; 105 (23 per cent) used hallucinogens; and 25 (six per cent) used opioids.

The study’s lead author, Dr Michelle Taylor said: “I think the most important findings from this study are that one in five adolescents follow a pattern of occasional or regular cannabis use and that those individuals are more likely to be tobacco dependant, have harmful levels of alcohol consumption or use other illicit drugs in early adulthood.”