Gender Differences in the Probability of Problem Cannabis Use: A Matter of Exposure or Vulnerability?

Jennifer Butters, Addiction Research Foundation Division

Although overall rates of adolescent cannabis use have risen in the Ontario, the pattern of use appears to differ by gender. While preliminary analyses of the 1997 wave of the Ontario Student Drug Use Survey (OSDUS) reveal no significant gender difference in the probability of cannabis use, a significant difference is observed in the progression to problem cannabis use. Male adolescents are significantly more likely to indicate problem cannabis use than females. This paper examines to what extent this gender difference can be explained in terms of exposure or vulnerability. Drawing on these concepts from the mental health literature, I examine whether male adolescents are exposed to a greater number of stressors than females or if they are more vulnerable to their effects. The implications of these findings and suggestions for intervention are discussed.

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Updated 05/20/2006