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Study finds cannabis self-concept linked with negative outcomes among emerging adults

Emerging adulthood, which is a time of identity development, is also a common time for cannabis use. An emerging adult’s identification with cannabis as part of their personality or identity may impact use behavior. A recent study sought to extend previous research that found a link between self-concept, motivational factors, and normative beliefs by evaluating relationships between cannabis self-concept, motives for use, motivation to change, perceived descriptive norms, and cannabis-related outcomes. The sample of community participants (n = 345) were emerging adults (mean age 21) who had used cannabis in the past month. Participants responded to questionnaires that were presented verbally and included the following measures. Explicitly-measured cannabis self-concept was assessed using the Cannabis Self-Concept scale. Cannabis use was assessed using the Timeline Followback method (TLFB). Cannabis problems and symptoms were assessed using the Marijuana Problems Scale. Motives for cannabis use were assessed using the Marijuana Motives Measure (MMM). Motivation to change was assessed using the Thoughts about Abstinence (TAA) scale. Descriptive norms were assessed, for two groups including close friends and peers, using questions related to number of close friends that they had, number of close friends that smoke cannabis, and perception of use by peers. The authors used multiple linear regression models to evaluate the associations between background characteristics, measures of cannabis use patterns and problems, motivations for using cannabis, and perceived cannabis use norms among close friends and peers with cannabis self-concept. Results indicated that participants reported having used cannabis on an average of 17.9 days of the previous month. Correlational analyses showed that cannabis self-concept was positively and significantly associated with days of cannabis use (p < 0.01), cannabis problem severity (p < 0.01), the coping motive (p < 0.01), the social motive (p < 0.01), the enhancement motive (p < 0.01), descriptive norms for close friends (p < 0.01), descriptive norms for peers (p < 0.01) and with using cannabis alone (p < 0.01). Multivariate analyses showed that while cannabis self-concept was positively and significantly associated with days of cannabis use (p < 0.001), cannabis problem severity (p = 0.001), the social motive (p < 0.001) and the enhancement motive (p = 0.010), it was negatively and significantly associated with desire to reduce cannabis use (p = 0.012).

Take away: This study found that cannabis use, problems, social motives, enhancement motives, and using alone were significantly associated with cannabis self-concept.

Blevins, C. E., Abrantes, A. M., Anderson, B. J., Caviness, C. M., Herman, D. S., & Stein, M. D. (2017). Identity as a cannabis user is related to problematic patterns of consumption among emerging adults. Addictive behaviors.

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