Adults who smoke marijuana are 5 times more likely to develop an alcohol use disorder (AUD) compared with adults who do not use marijuana, according to researchers from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and the City University of New York.

The study, published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence, evaluated data from 27,461 adults enrolled in the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions. These adults first used marijuana at a time when they had no history of AUDs. They were assessed at 2 separate time points.

RELATED: Medical Marijuana May Help Treat, Prevent Migraines

Study authors found that those who had used marijuana at the first assessment and again over the next 3 years (23%) were 5 times more likely to develop an AUD vs. those who had not used marijuana (5%). In addition, adults with drinking problems who did not use marijuana were significantly more likely to be in recovery from AUDs 3 years later. 

Study findings highlight the need for further research to “understand the pathways underlying these relationships as well as the degree to which various potentially vulnerable population subgroups – youth, for example – are at increased risk,” added Renee Goodwin, associate professor at the Mailman School of Public Health. Research in the future may help determine whether prevention or delay in initial marijuana use reduces the risk of developing AUDs among some patient populations. 

For more information visit