Externalizing psychopathology in early adolescence is a highly heritable risk factor for drug use, yet how it relates to marijuana use development is not well-characterized. We evaluate this issue in independent twin samples from Colorado (N = 2608) and Minnesota (N = 3630), assessed from adolescence to early adulthood. We used a biometric latent growth model of marijuana use frequency with data from up to five waves of assessment from ages 14 to 30, to examine change in marijuana use and its relationship with a factor model of adolescent externalizing psychopathology. The factor structure of adolescent externalizing psychopathology was similar across samples, as was the association between that common factor and early marijuana use (Minnesota r = 0.67 [0.60, 0.75]; Colorado r = 0.69 [0.59, 0.78]), and increase in use (Minnesota r = 0.18 [0.10, 0.26]; Colorado r = 0.20 [0.07, 0.34]). Early use was moderately heritable in both samples (Minnesota h2 = 0.57 [0.37, 0.79]; Colorado h2 = 0.42 [0.14, 0.73]). Increase in use was highly heritable in Minnesota (h2 = 0.82 [0.72, 0.88]), less so in Colorado (h2 = 0.22 [0.01, 0.66]), and shared environmental effects were larger in Colorado (c2 = 0.55 [0.14, 0.83]) than Minnesota (c2 = 0 [0, 0.06]). We found moderate genetic correlations between externalizing psychopathology and early use in both samples. Finally, additional analyses in the Minnesota sample indicated that marijuana use decreased during the late 20s. This decline is strongly heritable (h2 = 0.73 [0.49, 0.91]) and moderately negatively correlated with adolescent externalizing psychopathology (r = − 0.41 [− 0.54, − 0.28]). Adolescent externalizing psychopathology is genetically correlated with change in late adolescent marijuana use (late teens, early 20s), as well as maintenance of use in early adulthood (late 20 s) even after controlling for the effects of early use.
- Externalizing psychopathology
- Latent growth model
- Measurement invariance
PubMed: MeSH publication types
- Journal Article