Considering motives for marijuana use in drug rehab

When determining a self-empowering treatment plan for a person in recovery, it is important to determine what their purpose was for using drugs and alcohol.

Some individuals may use marijuana recreationally and occasionally for years with relatively few negative consequences. Others become addicted to marijuana and continue to use it daily despite negative consequences. With increased use of marijuana, marijuana addiction is increasingly common, and drug rehab is often necessary to overcome the addiction. In the field of addiction research, relatively few studies have examined self-reports of motives for marijuana use. Self-reported motives for use are important for understanding addiction. Differences in motive for use may explain why one individual becomes addicted while another does not. To explore different motives, researchers at the University of Washington developed and tested Comprehensive Marijuana Motives questionnaire (Lee et. al., 2009).

Participants in the study were 346 college students who used marijuana. The participants completed online assessments about motives for use, frequency of use, and problems associated with marijuana use. Analysis of the data supported a 12-factor scale for marijuana use motives which includes the following motives: enjoyment, conformity, coping, experimentation, boredom, alcohol, celebration, altered perception, social anxiety, relative low risk, sleep/rest, and availability.

The results of this study show that college students have many different motivations for using marijuana. Results of the study show that greater frequency of use was associated with the following motives: enjoyment, boredom, relative low risk, sleep/rest, and altered perception. Less use was associated with availability and experimentation motives. Further, the researchers found that coping and sleep/rest motives were associated with significantly more negative consequences, and enjoyment motives were associated with fewer consequences. Additionally, comparison of the Comprehensive Marijuana Motives questionnaire developed for this study indicated “comparatively good convergent validity.”

“Future research should further examine the reliability and validity of this marijuana motive questionnaire, particularly in samples of non-college young adults and those with more frequent marijuana use (e.g., daily use),” the authors conclude. “The present research offers a rare examination of a range of reasons young adult college students might use marijuana. To intervene successfully with individuals experiencing problems related to their marijuana use, it is imperative that we understand and acknowledge their own reasons for using marijuana.”

Indeed, several cognitive-behavioral therapy tools commonly used in drug rehab, such as the cost-benefit analysis, require individuals to consider the benefits of use as well as the consequences of use. It is important to consider motives for use in drug rehab because in abstinence these motives will need to be satisfied by means other than marijuana use. For example, in drug rehab, individuals should learn how to have fun, sleep/rest, and cope with problems without the use of marijuana.

Of the many motives people have for using including enjoyment, conformity and rest, it is imperative for an individual to discover different options to achieve the same benefits that are not drug or alcohol related. Aligning an individual’s interests with a particular goal will enable them to achieve long term sobriety and a better quality of life.

Lee CM, Neighbors C, Hendershot CS, Grossbard JR. Development and preliminary validation of a comprehensive marijuana motives questionnaire. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. 2009; 70(2): 279-287.