The Interactive Influence of Social Anxiety and Experimentally Induced Postevent Processing on Cannabis Use

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Cannabis use is a major public health concern, and identification of factors that increase risk of negative consequences of cannabis use may aid in the prevention and treatment of such disorders. Social anxiety has been shown to be robustly linked to negative consequences of cannabis use and cannabis use disorder. However, mechanisms that underlie these co-occurring conditions are not well understood. Socially anxious individuals engage in post-event processing (PEP; i.e., reviewing past social events in great detail), which tends to increase their negative affectivity. Given that negative affectivity can increase cannabis craving, PEP may place socially anxious individuals at risk for cannabis use. The current study set out to test this hypothesis using a web-based experimental design. Participants ( = 191) were randomized to complete one of three tasks, a negative PEP induction task, positive PEP induction task, and a neutral control task. Participants completed measures of cannabis use at baseline and one week after the task. Among participants engaging in negative PEP, social anxiety was related to increase in cannabis use quantity following the task relative to the other conditions. Negative PEP may be an important therapeutic target for socially anxious cannabis users.

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Translational issues in psychological science

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