Are There Secondary Effects on Marijuana Use From Brief Alcohol Interventions for College Students?

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This study examined whether brief motivational interventions (BMIs) designed for reducing heavy drinking among college students have secondary effects on reducing marijuana use.


The data came from Project INTEGRATE, which combined data from 24 independent trials of BMIs and other individual-focused interventions designed to reduce heavy drinking and related problems among college students. We analyzed data from 10 samples across nine studies that used random assignment of participants into either a BMI or a control group and assessed marijuana use outcomes (N = 6,768; 41.5% men; 73.2% White; 57.7% first-year students; 19.2% current marijuana users at baseline). We derived three marijuana use groups within studies by cross-tabulating baseline and follow-up data: Nonusers, Reducers, and Stayers/Increasers.


Peto’s one-step odds ratio analyses for meta-analysis revealed no significant intervention effects on marijuana use at either short-term (1–3 month) or long-term (6–12 month) follow-up. Subsequent exploratory analyses showed that those who reduced drinking were more likely to be a marijuana Reducer or Nonuser, compared with a Stayer/Increaser, at both follow-ups.


The BMIs to reduce heavy drinking evaluated in this study did not reduce marijuana use. However, our exploratory results suggest that if we can develop interventions for college students that effectively reduce drinking, we may also reduce their marijuana use. Furthermore, as recreational use of marijuana becomes legal or decriminalized and marijuana becomes more readily available, it may be necessary to develop interventions specifically targeting marijuana use among college students.

Recommended Citation

White, H. R., Jiao, Y., Ray, A. E., Huh, D., Atkins, D. C., Larimer, M. E., … Mun, E.-Y. (2015). Are There Secondary Effects on Marijuana Use From Brief Alcohol Interventions for College Students? Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 76(3), 367–377. http://doi.org/10.15288/jsad.2015.76.367