Compared to their healthy counterparts, adolescents and young adults (AYAs) with chronic conditions used drugs at comparable, if not higher, rates. For a study, researchers decided to analyze the incidence and patterns of tobacco use, marijuana use, and binge drinking in adolescents with inflammatory bowel disease. They anticipated that drug use would be linked to worse physical health, psychosocial functioning, and illness management.

A total of 132 AYAs completed a single set of surveys that assessed demographics, disease activity, healthcare utilization, health-related quality of life (HRQoL), inflammatory bowel disease-specific self-efficacy, adherence barriers, disease management skills, and substance use in the previous 30 days (e.g., tobacco use, marijuana use, binge drinking). Exploratory cluster analyses, followed by chi-square tests and analyses of variance, investigated drug usage patterns and cluster membership correlations.

The sample revealed four patterns: global users (n=17), marijuana users binge drinking (n=18), exclusive binge drinkers (n=21), and global abstainers (n=76). With medium and moderate impact sizes (P<.05), groups differed by age, gender, disease activity, healthcare consumption, HRQoL, self-efficacy, and adherence obstacles.

For individuals reporting multi substance use, older age, male gender, active illness, at least one hospitalization in the previous year, low self-efficacy, low HRQoL, and high adherence hurdles were considerably more common. Furthermore, all those who reported marijuana usage and binge drinking also reported cigarette use.