Personality Traits of Synthetic Cannabinoid-Using Youth

Analyzing personality characteristics and risk behaviors of youth who use synthetic cannabinoids may prevent addiction and adverse effects associated with drug use.

This article is part of Clinical Advisor’s coverage of the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners (NAPNAP) 2019 meeting, taking place in New Orleans, Louisiana. Our staff will report on medical research related to pediatric health conducted by experts in the field. Check back regularly for more news from NAPNAP 2019.

NEW ORLEANS―Identifying personal characteristics and risk behaviors of youth who use synthetic cannabinoids (SCs) may help to prevent addiction and adverse effects, according to research presented at the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners 2019 meeting held March 7–10 in New Orleans. 

Victoria L. Selby, PhD, CRNP-PMH, PMHNP-BC, CARN-AP, from the University of Maryland School of Nursing, and associates, conducted a retrospective review of youth aged 12 to 25 years admitted to a single substance use treatment center during 2014 to examine the extent of SC use as well as identify personal characteristics and risk behaviors associated with this population. Patients showing no evidence of SC screening and those who did not use either marijuana or cannabis were excluded.

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Persistent SC use was defined as >5 times in a patient’s lifetime whereas experimental use was defined as ≤5 times. Approximately one-third (32.4%) of those admitted to the residential substance treatment center reported using SC in their lifetime; of these, 136 (61.8%) were persistent users. No significant differences in lifetime use or amount of use between adolescents (those aged <18 years) and young adults (those aged ≥18 years) were found. Lifetime SC use was more frequently associated with being male, identifying as LGBT, having a history of psychiatric disorders, and using hallucinogens – relationships not seen with persistent SC use.

Among all SC users, those with prior legal history and those who used ≥2 drugs were more likely to be persistent users vs experimental users. Experimental and persistent alcohol users were less likely to be persistent SC users.

“Knowledge of personal characteristics that are associated with SC use may help health care providers to recognize those at greater risk to use and consider treatment as well as recovery implications,” the authors concluded.

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Selby VL, Storr CL, Fishman MJ. Characteristics of synthetic cannabinoid use using youth in treatment for substance use disorders. Presented at: National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners annual meeting 2019; March 7-10, 2019; New Orleans, LA. Abstract T2.

This article originally appeared on Clinical Advisor