Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology

, Volume 51, Issue 10, pp 1405–1415 | Cite as

Marijuana use from adolescence to adulthood: developmental trajectories and their outcomes

  • Judith S. BrookEmail author
  • Chenshu Zhang
  • Carl G. Leukefeld
  • David W. Brook
Original Paper



The study assesses the degree to which individuals in different trajectories of marijuana use are similar or different in terms of unconventional behavior, sensation seeking, emotional dysregulation, nicotine dependence, alcohol dependence/abuse, children living at home, and spouse/partner marijuana use at age 43.


This study used a longitudinal design. The sample participants (N = 548) were first studied at mean age 14 and last studied at mean age 43.


Six trajectories of marijuana use were identified: chronic/heavy users (3.6 %), increasing users (5.1 %), chronic/occasional users (20 %), decreasers (14.3 %), quitters (22.5 %), and nonusers/experimenters (34.5 %). With three exceptions, as compared with being a nonuser/experimenter, a higher probability of belonging to the chronic/heavy, the increasing, or the chronic/occasional user trajectory group was significantly associated with a greater likelihood of unconventional behavior, sensation seeking, emotional dysregulation, nicotine dependence, alcohol dependence/abuse, not having children who lived at home, and having a spouse/partner who used marijuana at early midlife. In addition, compared with being a quitter, a higher probability of belonging to the chronic/heavy user trajectory group was significantly associated with a higher likelihood of unconventional behavior, sensation seeking, emotional dysregulation, alcohol dependence/abuse, and spouse/partner marijuana use. Implications for intervention are presented.


Trajectories of marijuana use, especially chronic/heavy use, increasing use, and chronic/occasional use, are associated with unconventional behavior, sensation seeking, emotional dysregulation, nicotine dependence, alcohol dependence/abuse, having children who lived at home, and spouse/partner marijuana use at age 43. The importance of the findings for prevention and treatment programs are discussed.


Trajectories of marijuana use Unconventional behavior Sensation seeking Emotional dysregulation Nicotine dependence Alcohol dependence/abuse Not having children living at home Spouse/partner marijuana use 



This research was supported by NIH Grants DA003188 and DA032603 from the National Institute on Drug Abuse awarded to Dr. Judith S. Brook.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.

J. S. Brook, C. Zhang, C. G. Leukefeld, and D. W. Brook have no involvement in any organization or entity with a direct financial interest in the subject matter or materials discussed in the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Judith S. Brook
    • 1
    Email author
  • Chenshu Zhang
    • 1
  • Carl G. Leukefeld
    • 2
  • David W. Brook
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryNew York University School of MedicineNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Department of Behavioral SciencesUniversity of KentuckyLexingtonUSA

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