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Addiction. 2009 May;104(5):806-14. doi: 10.1111/j.1360-0443.2009.02534.x.

Are adolescents who moderate their cannabis use at lower risk of later regular and dependent cannabis use?

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  • 1National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW, Australia.



To examine whether moderation of cannabis use among adolescent cannabis users is associated with reductions in cannabis use frequency and risk of dependence in young adulthood.


Ten-year representative cohort study with six surveys in adolescence (mean age 14.9-17.4 years) and two in young adulthood (mean age 20.7 and 24.1 years).


Inception cohort of 1943 Victorian secondary school students (96% response rate), with 1520 (78% of adolescent participants) interviewed in the final wave.


Participants were classified into six groups according to the maximum level of adolescent use and the extent of subsequent moderation in such use: non-users, occasional to abstinence, occasional persisting, weekly to abstinence, weekly to occasional and weekly persisting. Outcome measures were weekly+ cannabis use and DSM-IV cannabis dependence at 20 and 24 years.


Thirty-one per cent reported cannabis use during adolescence. Most adolescent users had moderated their use: from occasional to abstinence (71% of occasional users), weekly to abstinence or weekly to occasional (28% and 48% of weekly+ users, respectively). By age 24, both occasional use groups were at similar, elevated risk of regular and dependent cannabis use compared to non-users. Weekly+ adolescent users were at greatest risk of these outcomes, although the weekly to abstinence group exhibited lower risk than those in the weekly persisting and weekly to occasional groups, who were at similar risk.


While many young people have dynamic cannabis use patterns, a pattern of moderating adolescent cannabis

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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