Cannabis usage is now a common problem among college students and is increasingly regarded as essential to the college experience. This study intends to investigate the association between college students’ perceived significance of marijuana to their college experience (PIMCES), coping and enhancing goals, protective behavioral strategies (PBS), and symptoms of cannabis use disorder (CUDS). The association between PIMCES and CUDS is moderated by conformity and enhancement goals, and PBS mediates this relationship according to a moderated mediation model that is put out. Self-report questionnaires will be used to gather data from a sample of college students for the study. Using the PROCESS macro, structural equation modeling (SEM) will be used to analyze the obtained data. The study will advance knowledge of how PIMCES, coping and enhancing motives, PBS, and CUDS are related. It will guide interventions to lessen marijuana use and CUDS among college students.
With marijuana use among college students in the United States rising from 36.4 percent in 2006 to 43.5 percent in 2018, marijuana use has become a problem that affects many students. Marijuana usage can cause cannabis use disorder symptoms (CUDS), which can have detrimental effects like scholastic difficulties, mental health issues, and legal challenges. PIMCES, or the perceived significance of marijuana to the college experience, has been rising among college students and is linked to increased marijuana use. Coping and enhancement motives have also been found to be related to marijuana use. However, little research has been done on how PIMCES, coping and enhancing motives, protective behavioral strategies (PBS), and CUDS relate to college students. This study aims to investigate this link and offer a moderated mediation model to account for it.
Perceived Importance of Marijuana to College Experience
PISCES stands for “Perceived Importance of Marijuana Use to College Experience,” which measures how vital marijuana use is to college students. Discovered that PIMCES was positively correlated with marijuana usage and that this correlation was mediated by coping motives, suggesting that college students may use marijuana as a stress-reduction technique. PIMCES is linked to marijuana usage, according to findings from other studies. However, little research has been done on how PIMCES and CUDS are related.
Cannabis Use Disorder Symptoms
Cannabis use disorder (CUD) is a clinical term for a pattern of cannabis use that is problematic and causes severe impairment or suffering. According to Mason, Mustafa, Filbey & Brown (2016), The signs of cannabis use disorder (CUD) include tolerance, withdrawal, overuse, hopeless attempts to cut back or stop, spending much time getting and using cannabis, giving up vital activities due to cannabis use, and continued cannabis use despite adverse effects. Compared to peers who do not attend college, college students have a higher risk of having CUD. The association between marijuana consumption and CUD symptoms has been examined in several studies. However, the precise causes of this association have not been thoroughly studied. Examples include PIMCES, coping and enhancing incentives, and protective behavioral techniques.
The quantity and regularity of cannabis usage is one aspect that might influence the link between PIMCES and CUD symptoms. Studies have revealed that excessive and frequent cannabis use is linked to a higher incidence of CUD symptoms. Additionally, using high-potency cannabis products like concentrates has been linked to a higher chance of developing CUD symptoms (Nielsen, Gowing, Sabioni, & Foll, 2019). Therefore, frequent and heavy marijuana users may be more likely to encounter the symptoms of CUD than college students who do not view marijuana usage as vital to the college experience. Furthermore, social norms may influence how PIMCES and CUD symptoms are related.
According to research, perceived social norms about marijuana use, such as how common and acceptable it is among peers, are linked to rising marijuana usage and difficulties. High levels of perceived social support for marijuana use among college students may lead them to use the drug more frequently and heavily, raising their risk of CUD symptoms. CUD symptoms may also occur due to concurrent use of other substances, such as alcohol and tobacco9 (Mokrysz et al., 2016). Students who view marijuana use as essential to their college experience may also be more prone to co-use other drugs, which raises their chance of developing CUD symptoms.
The usage of other drugs is another element that might have a role in how PIMCES and CUD symptoms are related. University students who use marijuana are more likely to also use alcohol and tobacco, according to research, and polydrug use is linked to a higher risk of CUD symptoms. As a result, college students who believe marijuana usage is crucial to their college experience may be more inclined to use several drugs, which increases their risk of developing CUD symptoms (Meier et al., 2018). It is crucial to remember that not all marijuana-using college students will experience CUD symptoms and that there are some things you may do to lower your risk.
Cannabis use restrictions and avoiding high-risk circumstances are two protective behavioral techniques that have been proven beneficial in lowering the chance of CUD symptoms. Individuals can also manage stress and anxiety without using drugs or alcohol by asking for assistance from friends, family, or mental health specialists (Meier, Hill, Small & Luthar, 2015). Therefore, promoting protective behavioral strategies and offering assistance in managing stress and anxiety may be practical interventions for lowering the risk of CUD among college students who value marijuana use as a part of their college experience.
PIMCES and CUD symptoms may be related in a way that is also influenced by social and cultural variables. Substance abuse and normalizing marijuana use are frequent characteristics on college campuses. The development of CUD symptoms among college students who use marijuana frequently and heavily may be influenced by this culture’s tendency to support the perception of marijuana usage as essential to the college experience (Kumpfer, 2014). Additionally, peer and social demands to use marijuana may drive college students to do so. People who believe that marijuana usage is crucial to their college experience may be more prone to give in to these pressures and end up developing CUD. Additionally, college students who believe marijuana use is crucial to their college experience may be more inclined to associate with classmates who hold the same views, which could increase exposure to marijuana use and normalize it. These pupils’ increased exposure might be a factor in the onset of CUD symptoms.
Social and cultural variables might also influence college students’ perceptions and understanding of the dangers of marijuana usage. According to research, college students are more likely to consume marijuana heavily and frequently when they believe no risk is involved. This impression may result from marijuana usage becoming accepted on college campuses, making students less likely to recognize the dangers of CUD symptoms. (Schaefer and colleagues, 2021). Therefore, the likelihood of CUD symptoms among college students may be decreased by educational programs that address the dangers of marijuana use and provide correct information about the potential adverse effects of excessive and frequent usage.
Additionally, societal and cultural aspects may influence how college students seek treatment for CUD symptoms. Help for CUD symptoms can be challenging to obtain due to the stigma attached to substance use. Due to worries about being stigmatized or shunned by their friends, college students who view marijuana usage as essential to their educational experience may be reluctant to seek treatment for CUD symptoms (Baribeau, Vorstman & Anagnostou, 2022). As a result, initiatives to lessen the stigma attached to substance use and to foster a welcoming and nonjudgmental environment for seeking help may be successful in boosting help-seeking behaviors among college students who consider marijuana use to be essential to their college experience.
The two marijuana reasons that are most frequently researched are coping and enhancement. Marijuana use for coping refers to dealing with unpleasant emotional states like stress and anxiety. Depression, too. Marijuana use for enhancement purposes includes increasing pleasurable, relaxing, and socializing feelings. It has been discovered that marijuana use is positively correlated with enhancement and coping motives. However, little research has been done on the connection between coping and enhancing motives, PIMCES, and CUDS. More investigation is required to determine how coping and enhancing motives relate to PIMCES and CUD symptoms (Caplan, 2014). Several studies suggest coping motivations may be more strongly linked to problematic marijuana usage than enhancing motivations. Furthermore, coping mechanisms may be more prominent in people with high stress and anxiety levels, which are common in college students. Therefore, comprehending the connection between PIMCES, CUD symptoms, and coping and enhancing goals may help us better grasp how problematic marijuana use among college students develops and is maintained.
College students who use marijuana run the risk of having adverse effects on their social functioning, mental health, and academic achievement. Two elements influencing marijuana use among college students are coping mechanisms and enhancing goals. Mainly, coping motives have been discovered to be connected to several detrimental effects, including increased anxiety and depressive symptoms and a decline in academic performance (Napper, Kenney, Lac, Lewis & LaBrie, 2014). The development of prevention and intervention strategies to lower the harmful effects of marijuana use can be informed by understanding the motivations behind the use. Given how common marijuana usage is among college students, more research is needed to understand the variables that lead to it. A more profound comprehension of these elements may result in treatments and prevention measures that are more successful.
According to recent studies, various populations may consume marijuana for different reasons. For instance, it has been discovered that people with social anxiety disorder are more likely to have coping motives, while people with ADHD are more likely to have enhancing motives. It implies that personality and clinical traits may impact the reasons people use marijuana. Additionally, individual variations in psychological qualities, such as experience-seeking and impulsivity, may contribute to why people use marijuana. By recognizing these individual variations, prevention and intervention strategies can be tailored to target particular subgroups of people (Bravo, Prince& Pearson, 2015). Furthermore, comprehending the intricate interaction of motivations, individual differences, and clinical traits may help create more successful interventions addressing problematic marijuana use among various populations.
Understanding the causes of marijuana use in this population is essential, given the high frequency of marijuana use among college students. Prior research has revealed that marijuana usage among college students is linked to coping and enhancing reasons. Little is known, though, about how these motivations can combine with other elements, such as PIMCES and CUD symptoms, to forecast marijuana usage among college students. Understanding the interactions between PIMCES, CUD symptoms, and coping and enhancing goals can help understand how problematic marijuana use among college students develops (Merrill, Carey, Reid & Carey, 2014). The exact causes of marijuana use among college students can be identified, which can help direct preventive and intervention initiatives. To fully comprehend the intricate interplay between these variables and how it affects marijuana usage among college students, more research is required.
Future studies should examine the intricate connections between PIMCES, CUD symptoms, and coping and enhancing objectives in predicting marijuana usage among college students. This study may help create focused preventive and intervention programs that target marijuana use among college students, especially those who suffer high levels of stress and anxiety, and address the underlying causes of marijuana use. In the end, a more profound comprehension of why college students use marijuana could aid in minimizing the harmful effects of problematic marijuana use in this population (Jiloha, 2017). Furthermore, knowing the characteristics that influence marijuana use among college students may assist in guiding more general public health policies and practices intended to lessen the adverse effects of marijuana use. Interventions can be tailored to the particular requirements of individual college students by addressing the underlying causes of marijuana use, which may ultimately result in more effective prevention and treatment programs.
Interventions that focus on the reasons college students use marijuana may also help to stop the progression from experimental use to problematic usage. For those who use marijuana to deal with stress or unpleasant feelings, for instance, coping skills and stress management techniques may be especially useful. Similarly, those who use marijuana to improve their experiences in social or academic domains may benefit more from programs that emphasize these aspects of functioning (Gilman et al., 2014). Interventions may be more effective at reducing the adverse effects of problematic marijuana use among college students if they are tailored to the individual motivations behind marijuana use.
Protective Behavioral Strategies: PBS
refers to the methods people adopt to control their substance use, including limiting their usage, avoiding risky situations, and getting social support. PBS has been linked in some studies to a negative relationship with alcohol use and a negative relationship with marijuana use. Additionally, studies have shown that PBS users experience fewer substance-related issues and unfavorable outcomes, including hangovers, blackouts, and missing classes. The development of focused prevention and intervention programs aimed at encouraging the use of these strategies among people who use marijuana and other substances can be informed by an understanding of the role of PBS in reducing the negative consequences associated with substance use (Cerdá et al., 2017). Additionally, research can look into the variables that affect PBS use, like personality qualities, coping mechanisms, and social support, to understand better how these techniques can be successfully included in interventions.
PBS can also help lower the likelihood of developing substance abuse disorders. According to research, people who utilize PBS have a lower risk of developing substance abuse issues than people who do not. It shows that encouraging PBS usage among those who use marijuana and other drugs may be a helpful strategy for halting the emergence of substance misuse disorders. Prevention programs can be more effectively tailored if the specific PBS that reduces substance use and harmful effects is identified (Adrian, 2021). Additionally, adapt intervention efforts to each user’s particular needs.
PBS can improve the outcomes in terms of mental health in addition to its preventive effects. According to studies, those who utilize PBS experience less anxiety and depressive symptoms than people who do not employ these techniques. It shows that PBS might provide advantages beyond lowering substance use and harmful effects. Therefore, incorporating PBS into more significant mental health interventions may be a successful strategy to advance mental health (Counts & John-Henderson, 2022)—moreover, the health of marijuana and other substance users.
Despite the advantages of PBS, not all substance users employ these techniques. The use of PBS may be influenced by several variables, including gender, age, personality attributes, and social support, according to research. It is possible to design programs to encourage PBS use among various categories of people by being aware of these aspects. For instance, it could be necessary to consider the particular pressures when developing interventions to encourage college students to use PBS. The social settings that college students encounter.
Additionally, studies have indicated that an individual’s level of motivation and willingness to change may impact how effective PBS intervention interventions that are made to the level of motivation and change readiness of the individual may be more successful in encouraging the usage of PBS. To improve motivation and readiness to change in people who use marijuana and other drugs, motivational interviews practical may be an effective addition to PBS therap
y methods are proven methods for lowering drug usage and unfavorable effects among marijuana and other substance users. Promoting PBS usage may potentially positively affect mental health and general well-being. However, not all substance users employ these techniques, and interventions may need to be customized to meet the specific requirements of certain user subgroups. Motivating people who use marijuana and other substances to change may be accomplished by incorporating strategies from motivational interviewing (Buckner, Shah Dean & Zvolensky, 2016). More research is required to understand further the factors that affect PBS usage and the most effective strategies for promoting their use among substance users.
In conclusion, effective prevention and intervention strategies must consider the factors that lead to substance use and the emergence of problematic use. While protective behavioral methods are negatively connected with substance use, and its associated adverse effects, coping and enhancing goals have been proven to be significant variables in marijuana use among college students. More research is required to fully comprehend the intricate connections between these variables and how they affect substance use. Targeted prevention and intervention programs can be created to meet the specific requirements of individual college students by recognizing the specific factors that contribute to substance use and the methods that can be employed to reduce substance use and its detrimental effects. Finally, this can promote healthy behaviors among college students and aid in lessening the harmful effects of problematic substance use.
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