Ordering in alcohol and cannabis co-use: Impact on daily consumption and consequences


Background: Co-use of alcohol and cannabis is highly prevalent among young adults and college students. Between-person reports suggest that co-use is associated with the experience of more frequent consumption and related consequences, compared to single substance use. However, recent studies have found conflicting evidence regarding the impact of co-use use on consumption and consequences in daily or event-level investigations. Conflicting evidence may be due to understudied factors, such as the order in which alcohol and cannabis are used. The current study aimed to examine the effect of substance use order on a) alcohol consumption; b) cannabis consumption; and c) negative alcohol and cannabis consequences. Methods: Data were collected from U.S. undergraduate college student alcohol and cannabis users (N = 258) who completed two 28-day longitudinal online assessment bursts examining alcohol and cannabis co-use patterns. Data were collected five times per day during both bursts (three months apart). Results: Controlling for between-person alcohol and cannabis use, within-person mixed-effects models indicated that using cannabis first within a co-use day was associated with lower daily alcohol consumption, but greater daily cannabis consumption. Substance use ordering was not linked to consequences, whereas between-person levels of alcohol consumption and within-person number of drinks in a day were positive predictors of consequences. Conclusions: Overall, results highlighted that order of substance use is a robust predictor of consumption on co-use days. Therefore, future research on co-use use should consider patterns of use in addition to level of use.

Drug and Alcohol Dependence