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Trajectories of marijuana use and psychological adjustment among urban African American and Puerto Rican women

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  16 December 2010

K. Pahl*
Department of Psychiatry, New York University School of Medicine, NY, USA
J. S. Brook
Department of Psychiatry, New York University School of Medicine, NY, USA
J. Koppel
Department of Psychiatry, New York University School of Medicine, NY, USA
*Address for correspondence: Dr K. Pahl, Department of Psychiatry, New York University School of Medicine, 215 Lexington Avenue, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10016, USA. (Email:



The current longitudinal study examined the developmental patterns of marijuana use and their relationship with subsequent psychological adjustment in a community-based sample of urban African American and Puerto Rican women.


Participants were interviewed five times over a period ranging from adolescence (mean age 14.0 years) to adulthood (mean age 32.5 years). Outcome measures included depressive symptoms, anger/hostility and the presence of a substance use disorder (abuse/dependence).


Three distinct trajectories of marijuana use were identified: non-users, increasers and quitters. Increasers reported higher levels of depressive symptoms and anger/hostility than did non-users and were more likely to meet criteria for a substance use disorder at age 32.5 years.


Our findings indicate that early-starting long-term use of marijuana is associated with psychological maladjustment among women. Prevention efforts should emphasize the long-term cost associated with marijuana use, and that the best psychological health is reported by those who abstain from the drug.

Original Articles
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2010

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