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Marijuana accessibility and permissibility during use predicts lapse during attempted abstinence among young adults

It has been documented that young adults using marijuana heavily often try to quit on their own. A new study aimed at identifying momentary experiences during marijuana use that could help in predicting lapse when young adults subsequently attempt abstinence. Participants (N = 34) were young adults between the ages of 18 to 25 who had been using marijuana five or more days per week during the past three months and were planning on quitting, willing to abstain for two weeks, and were not currently in treatment. Participants completed a survey, which included a series of questions and questionnaires related to marijuana use, expectancies and motives as well as demographic characteristics. Participants also completed ecological momentary assessments (EMA) on their smartphones several times per day for two weeks prior to attempting abstinence as well as two weeks during the attempt. EMA reports assessed positive and negative affect, craving, accessibility, situational permissibility, marijuana use, as well as momentary confidence and motivation to abstain. The authors examined baseline characteristics and EMA data in relation to whether lapse occurred during attempted abstinence. Results indicated that almost 3 in 4 participants (73.5%) lapsed during attempted abstinence from marijuana. In comparison to those who reported no lapse, participants who lapsed had lower Severity of Dependence Scale (SDS) scores, negative effect expectancies, perceived family support, and confidence not to use marijuana at baseline. Furthermore, EMA use period variables including greater percent of days with marijuana use, reports of marijuana being easy to get, and reports of being in a situation permitting use were all associated with lapse. Multivariable regressions also showed that together, negative effect expectancies, perceived family support, confidence not to use, and situational permissibility were highly accurate in predicting lapse. Lastly, confidence to abstain significantly predicted lapse such that for each 1-point increase on the confidence scale, participants were 76% less likely to lapse.

Take away: This study found that negative effect expectancies, perceived family support, confidence to abstain, and situational permissibility during use were highly accurate in predicting lapse during attempted abstinence among young adults.

Shrier, L. A., Sarda, V., Jonestrask, C., & Harris, S. K. (2017). Momentary factors during marijuana use as predictors of lapse during attempted abstinence in young adults. Addictive behaviors.

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