The role of temperament in the relationship between early onset of tobacco and cannabis use: The TRAILS study
Background: While temperamental characteristics have been related to the onset of cannabis use, it is not clear at what point(s) along the trajectory from early onset of tobacco use (EOT) to early onset of cannabis use (EOC) these characteristics exert their impact. This study examined if 1) temperamental characteristics predispose to EOT that on its turn predisposes to EOC, and 2) temperament moderates the importance of EOT on the progression to EOC.
Methods: Data from 1848 (83%) participants in the TRacking Adolescents’ Individual Lives Survey (TRAILS), a prospective population study of Dutch adolescents, were analyzed. We used parent-reports on the Early Adolescent Temperament Questionnaire to assess the dimensions of high-intensity pleasure, frustration, effortful control, shyness and fearfulness at age 10-12. EOT and EOC were defined as use at least once before the ages of 12 and 13 years, respectively, assessed by means of self-reports. We performed mediation and moderation analyses in Mplus.
Results: High levels of high-intensity pleasure predisposed to entrance in the trajectory from EOT to EOC. Once tobacco use had been initiated at early age, low levels of shyness and high levels of high-intensity pleasure increased the risk of progression to EOC.
Conclusions: Besides a common liability for EOT and EOC based on temperament, the risk of transition from tobacco to cannabis use is modified by temperamental characteristics. Differences in interplay with other risk factors may explain the impact of temperament on distinct points along the substance use trajectory.