Cannabis use in adolescents: The impact of risk and protective factors and social functioning

David Best, Samantha Gross, Victoria Manning, Michael Gossop, John Witton, John Strang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


The study uses a school-based sample to test the social and familial risk and protective factors relating to cannabis use. Based on a self-completion survey of 2078 14-16-year-olds (mean age of 15 years) attending seven standard state-run secondary schools in south London, an assessment was made of rates and risk factors for cannabis use. Twenty-four per cent of the total sample had ever used cannabis, with 15% having done so in the month prior to assessment. In addition to greater likelihood of illicit drug use, lifetime cannabis users were less likely to spend time regularly with both their mothers and fathers, but more likely to spend free time with friends who smoked, drank alcohol and used illicit drugs, and with friends involved in criminal activities. Among those who had ever used cannabis, frequency of cannabis use was predicted (using linear regression) by two onset factors (earlier initiation of drinking and cannabis use were both linked to more frequent use) and two social factors (more time spent with drug-using friends and less time spent with the mother). Overall, the study showed that early onset, itself predicted by social networks, is linked to more frequent use of cannabis and that this appears to be sustained by less time spent with parents and more with drug-using peers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)483-488
Number of pages6
JournalDrug and Alcohol Review
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Cannabis
  • Parent
  • Protective factor
  • Risk factor
  • Social network

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