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Craving is Impermanent and it Matters: Investigating Craving and Cannabis use Among Young Adults with Problematic use Interested in Reducing use

Previous studies are showing that cannabis use can be problematic in young adulthood calling for early interventions. Craving has been shown to be correlated to cannabis use disorder and may increase the probability of subsequent use in those who are already frequently using it. The current study looks at this association over time to investigate it specifically in young adults wanting to limit or control their cannabis use.

Participants (N=80) for the study were between the age of 18-29, used cannabis at least two days during the week, endorsed a Contemplation or Action state of change, had Cannabis Disorder Identification Test that indicated increased risk, and owned a smart phone. After a baseline assessment in the lab, the participants completed subsequent surveys on their phones. The assessments included evaluating cannabis-related problems, readiness to change, cravings, momentary craving, and cannabis use.

Results showed that on average, participants used cannabis 3.76 days of the week along with 43% being above the threshold for probable Cannabis Use Disorder. They also found that urges and thoughts were associated with probable cannabis use, but compulsivity and emotionality were not associated. As predicted, momentary cravings were positively associated with immediate cannabis use. It was found that if a participant was one standard deviation above the mean for momentary craving their probability of marijuana use increased to 367%. These findings show that if a young adult is trying to control or cut back their use, it may be important to provide interventions that ask about cravings. Prevention strategies may also benefit from discussing how cravings may be affecting young adult marijuana use.

Take Away: The current study looks at the association of craving and cannabis use to investigate it specifically in young adults wanting to limit or control their cannabis use. 80 participants were included in the study ranging from 18-29 who used cannabis at least two days during the week and endorsed wanted to change their use habits. Assessments included evaluating cannabis-related problems, readiness to change, cravings, momentary craving, and cannabis use. Momentary cravings were positively associated with immediate cannabis use. It was found that if a participant was one standard deviation above the mean for momentary craving their probability of marijuana use increased to 367%. These findings show that if a young adult is trying to control or cut back their use, it may be important to provide interventions that ask about cravings.  


Enkema, M. C., Hallgren, K. A., & Larimer, M. E. (2020). Craving is impermanent and it matters: Investigating craving and cannabis use among young adults with problematic use interested in reducing use. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 210, 107957. doi:10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2020.107957

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