In this study, we examined the prevalence and correlates of current synthetic cannabinoid (SC) use among high school seniors in the United States.
Monitoring the Future, an annual nationally representative survey of high school seniors, began querying current (30-day) SC use in 2014. Data were examined from the 2 most recent cohorts (2014-2015; N = 7805). Prevalence of self-reported use was examined and differences in demographics and recency and frequency of other drug use was compared between current marijuana-only users and current SC (plus marijuana) users using χ2 and generalized linear model using Poisson.
We found that 2.9% of students reported current SC use; 1.4% of students (49.7% of users) reported using SCs on ≥3 days in the past month. SC users were more likely to report more recent (and often more frequent) use of lysergic acid diethylamide, cocaine, heroin, and/or nonmedical use of opioids compared with marijuana-only users. Compared with current marijuana-only users, SC users were more likely to report lower parent education (P < .05) and current use of a higher number of illegal drugs other than marijuana (Ps < .001). Students using SCs ≥10 times in the past month were more likely to be boys, frequent marijuana users (Ps < .01), African American, and users of multiple other illegal drugs (Ps < .001).
SC use is typically part of a repertoire of polydrug use, and polydrug use is less prevalent among marijuana-only users. Current SC users are at risk for poisoning from use of the newest generation of SCs and from concurrent drug use.
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