Trajectory classes of cannabis use and heavy drinking among rural African American adolescents: multi-level predictors of class membership

Allen W. Barton, Gene H. Brody, Tamika C.B. Zapolski, Trenette C. Goings, Steven M. Kogan, Michael Windle, Tianyi Yu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Aims: To inform research on the etiology and prevention of substance use among rural African American youth by (a) identifying developmental trajectory classes of cannabis use and heavy drinking across adolescence and young adulthood and (b) examining associations between trajectory class membership and multi-level assessments of risk factors. Design: A prospective study spanning 9 years with assessments of cannabis use and heavy drinking, the catecholamines epinephrine and norepinephrine, perceived stress and psychosocial risk factors. Setting: Rural communities in the southeastern United States. Participants: African American youth (n = 518). Measurements: Participants were assessed for cannabis use and heavy drinking at seven assessments beginning at 16 years of age and continuing to 25 years of age. At age 19, participants provided overnight urine voids that were assayed for catecholamines, a biological marker of life stress resulting from sympathetic nervous system activation. At ages 16 and 19, participants provided information on malleable psychosocial risk factors. Findings: Latent class growth models revealed three distinct trajectory classes for cannabis use and for heavy drinking. Higher levels of circulating stress hormones and perceived stress were associated with classes reporting greater substance use over time (all Ps < 0.05). A composite of selected risk factors discriminated class membership (all Ps < 0.05). Trajectory classes characterized by rapid usage increases in early adulthood exhibited the greatest increase in deviant peer affiliations between ages 16 and 19 years. Conclusions: Rural African American youth's cannabis use and heavy drinking across adolescence and young adulthood demonstrate distinct developmental courses; a small number of risk factors and measures of biological and perceived stress differentiate class membership prognostically. Variability over time in these measures, specifically an increase in deviant peer affiliation, may help to account for steep increases in young adulthood.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1439-1449
Number of pages11
JournalAddiction
Volume113
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2018
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • African American
  • cannabis
  • heavy drinking
  • latent class growth modeling
  • risk factors
  • stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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