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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The topography of multiple drug use among adolescent Australians: Findings from the National Drug Strategy Household Survey

Despite evidence that many Australian adolescents have considerable experience with various drug types, little is known about the extent to which adolescents use multiple substances. The aim of this study was to examine the degree of clustering of drug types within individuals, and the extent to which demographic and psychosocial predictors are related to cluster membership.

A sample of 1402 adolescents aged 12–17 years was extracted from the Australian 2007 National Drug Strategy Household Survey. Extracted data included lifetime use of 10 substances, gender, psychological distress, physical health, perceived peer substance use, socioeconomic disadvantage, and regionality. Latent Class Analysis was used to determine clusters, and multinomial logistic regression employed to examine predictors of cluster membership.

There were 3 latent classes. The great majority (79.6%) of adolescents used alcohol only, 18.3% were limited range multidrug users (encompassing alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana), and 2% were extended range multidrug users. Perceived peer drug use and psychological distress predicted limited and extended multiple drug use. Psychological distress was a more significant predictor of extended multidrug use compared to limited multidrug use.

In the Australian school-based prevention setting, a very strong focus on alcohol use and the linkages between alcohol, tobacco and marijuana is warranted. Psychological distress may be an important target for screening and early intervention for adolescents who use multiple drugs.

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