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Motives Matter: Cannabis Use Motives Moderate the Associations between Stress and Negative Affect

Young adults have been found to have high levels of stress and symptoms that arise from stress. Stress can lead to negative problems such as poorer health along with substance abuse and substance related problems. Cannabis has previously been found to be commonly used as a coping mechanism for stress and its negative effects. The present study looks if cannabis use as a coping mechanism exacerbated the same problems young adults are trying to eliminate including stress and negative affect.

To complete the study, 988 undergraduate students were recruited who had used cannabis at least once in their lifetime. The participants on average had used cannabis 8 times in the past month and almost 90% had reported using it sometime in the past year. Participants completed an online survey about cannabis use patterns, depression, anxiety, stress, and marijuana use motives. All the questions asked were to gain an understanding and examine the relationships between motives for cannabis use and if there are any links between this to stress and negative affect.

What the researchers found was that coping motives did moderate the association between stress and depression. What this means is that those who had high levels of stress that use cannabis also experience higher levels of depression. Another interesting finding was that coping motives did not seem to be a moderator of the relationship between stress and anxiety. Overall, they found that while cannabis may give temporary relief from stress and depression, it can be related to higher levels of depression and that the motives of expansion and conformity may be related to higher anxiety. This information is important when attempting to understand motives behind marijuana use in young adults. If there is a better understanding of motives behind its use, prevention and interventions can be targeted to these motives.

Take Away: Young adults have been known to experience high levels of stress leading to negative outcomes such has poorer health and substance misuse. The present study attempted to find relationships between cannabis use and its potential use as a coping mechanism for stress. 988 undergraduate students were surveyed and asked about cannabis use patters, depression, anxiety, stress, and marijuana use motives. What they found was that coping motives did moderate association between stress and depression in that those with high levels of stress using cannabis also experience higher levels of depression. Understanding motives behind marijuana use is important when creating targeted preventions and interventions for young adults.

Glodosky, N. C., & Cuttler, C. (2020). Motives Matter: Cannabis use motives moderate the associations between stress and negative affect. Addictive Behaviors, 102, 106188. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2019.106188

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