Concurrent Use of Alcohol and Cigarettes from Adolescence to Young Adulthood

An Examination of Developmental Trajectories and Outcomes

Published in: Substance Use and Misuse, v. 40, no. 8, July 2005, p. 1051-1069

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2005

by Maria Orlando Edelen, Joan S. Tucker, Phyllis L. Ellickson, David J. Klein

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Concurrent use of alcohol and tobacco is common among adolescents, yet little is known about the developmental patterns of concurrent use, or the consequences associated with such patterns during young adulthood. Using data collected at six time points during 1985-1995 as part of an evaluation of a school-based substance abuse prevention program in California and Oregon, this study used latent growth mixture modeling to identify five distinct developmental trajectories of concurrent use of alcohol and tobacco from ages 13-23 in a cohort of 5873 individuals and compared these distinct groups with respect to demographic characteristics and young adult outcomes (at age 23 and age 29). Results suggest that while it is common during adolescence to drink but not smoke, it is very unusual to smoke and not drink. Compared to young people who smoked and drank consistently throughout their teens and early twenties, those who drank consistently but smoked only occasionally or dramatically decreased their smoking over time had lower rates of deviant behavior and predatory violence at age 23 and were less likely to have a history of arrest and substance use problems by age 29. This close examination of concurrent use of alcohol and cigarette use from ages 13-23 further accentuates the importance of curbing smoking behavior among adolescents before it becomes habitual.

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