Individual, Family, and School Correlates across Patterns of High School Poly-substance Use

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Background: Recent popularity in e-cigarette use among high school students and the legalization of marijuana across many states resulted in new patterns of poly-substance use (PSU). Objective: The purpose of this study is to understand contemporary patterns of PSU and their associations with individual social-emotional characteristics (sensation seeking, perceived harm, life satisfaction) and social-contextual factors (parental involvement, school norms, academics, and behaviors). Methods: Latent class analysis (LCA) was used to identify patterns of PSU among 12th-grade students (n = 8417) from the 2016 Monitoring the Future project. Multinomial logistic regression was used to understand the relationship among individual characteristics, social-contextual factors, and patterns of PSU. Results: From the LCA, three patterns of PSU were identified: (1) low-use (72.2%); (2) pre-dominantly marijuana use with some co-occurring substance use (23.8%); and (3) high PSU (4.0%). Results indicate that students with pre-dominant marijuana use were differentiated from those with PSU by having higher perceived harm of electronic and regular cigarette, heavy alcohol use, and better academic grades. Furthermore, students with both polysubstance and pre-dominant marijuana use, when compared to those with low-use, had lower life satisfaction, higher sensation seeking, lower perceived harm of substance use, poorer grades, and more disciplinary problems. Conclusion/Importance: Findings draw attention to the importance of understanding levels of life satisfaction, sensation seeking, perceived harm, academic grades, and disciplinary problems as they pertain to contemporary patterns of PSU. Schools should consider a tailored and multi-tiered approach to addressing students’ substance use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)743-751
Number of pages9
JournalSubstance Use and Misuse
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 2 2020


  • Poly-substance use
  • life satisfaction
  • parental involvement
  • school experience
  • sensation seeking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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