The relationship between inhalant use and adolescent gateway drug use sequencing: a latent transition analysis Public Deposited

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  • March 21, 2019
  • Crankshaw, Erik C.
    • Affiliation: Gillings School of Global Public Health, Department of Health Behavior
  • Introduction: Inhalant use is the most prevalent form of illicit drug use among young (<8th grade) adolescents in the United States and inhalants share several characteristics with gateway drugs (alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana). The purpose of this study was to determine whether, and if so, how the gateway hypothesis of drug use sequencing could be expanded to include inhalants for African American and white adolescents. In addition, the study examined whether various psychosocial characteristics could account for the transition from inhalant use to a later stage of drug use. Methods: Data were from a panel study on adolescents from 13 schools in three counties in North Carolina. The study focused on transitions from 6th to 7th grade (N = 1,630) and from 7th to 8th grade (N = 3,344), and the analyses were conducted separately for African American males, African American females, white males, and white females to assess race and gender differences in drug use sequencing. Latent transition analysis (LTA) was used to identify models of drug use sequencing and to estimate drug use prevalence and the probabilities of transitioning from one drug use stage to another. Formal criteria for establishing gateway relationships were examined to determine whether inhalant use was operating as a gateway to other drug use. Results: For white males and African American males and females, there was no evidence that inhalants serve a gateway role. However, inhalant use preceded and increased the probability of marijuana use for a significant number of white females at both transition periods; formal criteria were met supporting inhalant use as a gateway to marijuana use for white females transitioning from 6th to 7th grade, and the probability of transitioning from inhalant use to marijuana use remained significant after controlling for a variety of psychosocial characteristics. Conclusions: This study was the first to formally evaluate the relationship between inhalant use and gateway drug use. The finding that inhalants appear to play an important role in gateway drug use sequencing for white females, coupled with findings from recent studies that suggest inhalant use has increased among female adolescents, supports an increased focus on inhalant use.
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  • In Copyright
  • Ennett, Susan
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Open access

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