Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Andrea C. Villanti

Second Advisor

Thomas Ahern


Dual and poly-tobacco and substance use are increasingly prevalent in youth and young adults. Current substance use prevention media efforts target addiction perceptions in young people; however, little is known about the perceived addictiveness of multiple substances among young people. The goal of the current study is to examine youth and young adults perceive addictiveness across several substances and the associations between addiction perceptions and substance use. Data were collected in Spring and Summer 2019 (Waves 1 and 2) as part of PACE Vermont, an online cohort study of Vermonters aged 12–25. Latent class analyses grouped participants by responses to an item that assessed perceived addictiveness of nicotine, caffeine, alcohol, marijuana, cigarettes, electronic vapor products, and opioids. Bivariate and multivariable multinomial logistic regression estimated relative risk ratios (RRR) for correlations between latent classes and sociodemographics and substance use among Vermont youth and young adults. Four emergent latent classes were defined as: 1) high perceived addictiveness (n=346; 30%), 2) low perceived addictiveness of marijuana (n=684; 59%), 3) mixed addiction perceptions (n=93; 8%), and 4) low perceived addictiveness (n=45; 4%). Latent class membership was associated with sociodemographics and current and ever substance use. For each year increase in age, there was a 44% increased likelihood of being in Class 2 compared to Class 1. Similarly, each year increase in age corresponded with a 42% increased likelihood of belonging to Class 3 compared to Class 1. Findings from this study provide novel evidence that youth and young adult beliefs about addictiveness across substances are correlated with substance use behaviors and demographic factors, including age. The strong association between age and class membership defined by low and mixed addiction perceptions suggests differences in addiction perceptions in youth compared to young adults. These associations signal novel opportunities to target addiction perceptions in messaging to young adults as well as youth to prevent substance use.



Number of Pages

58 p.