Category: Addictive Behaviors
Many college students experience negative consequences related to cannabis use (Caldeira et al., 2008; Buckner et al., 2010). Social anxiety disorder (SAD) commonly co-occurs with cannabis-related problems and cannabis use disorder (CUD; e.g., Buckner et al., 2012; 2016), and SAD onset typically precedes onset of CUD (Buckner et al., 2008; 2012), suggesting that social anxiety may contribute to development of CUD. It may be that cognitive and affective vulnerabilities underlie the co-occurrence of these disorders, contributing to the onset and maintenance of both SAD and CUD. Post-event processing (PEP; i.e., reviewing past social situations in detail; Kocovski et al., 2005; Rapee & Heimberg, 1997) may serve as a cognitive vulnerability given that greater social anxiety is related to negative affect when engaging in PEP (Field & Morgan, 2004) and socially anxious individuals are vulnerable to using cannabis to cope with negative affect and avoid unpleasant experiences (e.g., Buckner et al., 2012; 2014). The role of PEP in the relationship of social anxiety to cannabis use was examined, and it was hypothesized that engaging in experimentally induced negative PEP (relative to a control task) would be related to greater cannabis use one week later. Participants were 158 past three-month cannabis-using undergraduates (Mage=20.40, 75% female, 68.6 Non-Hispanic Caucasian). Participants were randomized to one of three conditions: negative PEP (write about negative aspects of a social event; n=55), positive PEP (write about positive aspects of a social event; n=54), and neutral (write about a topic learned in class; n=49). Participants also completed measures of social anxiety and change in cannabis use measured before the task and one week after. PEP was tested as a moderator of the relationship between social anxiety and cannabis use using hierarchical multiple regression. PEP conditions were dummy coded with the neutral condition as the reference condition. Interactions between conditions and social anxiety were calculated and accounted for significant variance above and beyond covariates and main effects, ΔR2=0.03, F(2,183)=3.23, p=.042. Comparison of the negative task vs. control task in the interaction was significant, b=0.13, t=2.54, p=.012, such that change in cannabis use increased among those in the negative PEP task with greater social anxiety, but not the control task. The comparison of the positive task vs. control was not significant, b=0.06, t=1.26, p=.209 suggesting that social anxiety relates differentially to change in cannabis use among those engaging in negative (but not positive) PEP. Strategies that aim to reduce negative PEP may be useful in treatments among individuals with co-occurring SAD and CUD.
VA South Central Mental Illness, Reserch, Education, and Clinical Center