Cannabis use and patterns of substance use among French sport sciences students

  • Peretti-Watel Patrick
  • Seror Valérie
  • Lorente Fabrice
  • Doucende Grégory
  • Martha Cécile
  • Grélot Laurent


Background. Sport participation has been found to be positively associated with alcohol use, especially among students, but negatively associated with illicit drug use, with inconsistent results regarding cannabis use. Objectives. We investigated cannabis use among French sports science students. We studied factors associated to cannabis use, especially sporting characteristics, then we identified various kinds of polydrug use among cannabis users. Methods. We used a questionnaire to survey sports science students from southern France in 2013-2016 (n=1,244). We performed a logistic regression to investigate the correlates of repeated cannabis use (several times in lifetime versus never/just once), and a cluster analysis to identify profiles of substance use among repeated users (n=415). Results. Overall, 33% of participants reported repeated cannabis use. This prevalence was higher among students practicing a team sport other than soccer or a sliding sport, and lower among those practicing at national/international level. Among repeated users, we found various kinds of polydrug use (combining regular or ‘light’ cannabis use, cannabis use for enhancing sportive or non-sportive performances, regular heavy drinking, and consumption of illicit stimulants). These combinations were correlated to respondents’ sporting characteristics and sex. Conclusions/importance. Considering various kind of polydrug use, instead of each use separately, is a promising avenue of research to better understand correlations between sports participation and drugs use. In this article, cannabis use was frequent only among males who also exhibited high levels of alcohol use, and taking into account users’ motives and sporting characteristics fueled our understanding of drugs use in this specific population