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Nordic Studies on Alcohol and Drugs

The Journal of Nordic Centre for Welfare and Social Issues

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From Cannabis to Problem Drinking? Use and Abuse from Youth to Adulthood

Christer Hyggen
  • Norwegian Social Research (NOVA), Oslo; Akershus University College of Applied Sciences
  • Email:
/ Torild Hammer
  • Norwegian Social Research (NOVA), Oslo; Akershus University College of Applied Sciences
  • Email:
Published Online: 2014-12-16 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.2478/nsad-2014-0034


AIMS – The transition from youth to adulthood is associated with changes in the consumption of drugs and alcohol. The aim is to explore the process of “maturing out” of high levels of alcohol consumption, substance use and alcohol related problems from youth to adulthood. We are particularly interested in the relationship between the use of cannabis and alcohol consumption in relation to indicators of adult roles and responsibilities and alcohol-related problems over the life-course. METHODS – We used data from the longitudinal panel survey Arbeid, Livsstil og Helse (ALH). The data contains information on alcohol and drug consumption, alcohol related problems and a range of indicators of adulthood like marriage and parenthood from surveys repeated in 1985, 1987, 1989, 1993, 2003 and 2010. The sample was nationally representative for the cohorts born 1965–1968 and thus contains individual histories from youth (17–20 years) to adulthood (42–45 years) with response rates ranging from 80% in 1985 to 53% in 2010 (total n=1997). RESULTS – Alcohol consumption is found to be substantially higher among users of cannabis than among non-users throughout the period from youth to adulthood. The use of cannabis, the level of alcohol consumption and probability of experiencing alcohol related problems decrease as the cohorts grow older. Alcohol related problems are still associated with the level of involvement with cannabis: those with a current or previous involvement with cannabis report more alcohol related problems. Taking into account the decreasing trend of alcohol related problems with age we find that becoming a parent and/ or getting married reduces the risk of experiencing such problems.

Keywords: alcohol; alcohol related problems; cannabis; life course; maturing out


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About the article

Received: 2013-11-14

Accepted: 2014-07-24

Published Online: 2014-12-16

This study was funded by the Norwegian research council: Alcohol and drug research.

Citation Information: Nordic Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, ISSN (Online) 1458-6126, DOI: https://doi.org/10.2478/nsad-2014-0034. Export Citation

© 2014 Christer Hyggen and Torild Hammer. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 License. (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

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