Solitary cannabis use frequency mediates the relationship between social anxiety and cannabis use and related problems

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BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Individuals with elevated social anxiety are seven times more likely to meet criteria for cannabis use disorders, yet social anxiety is unrelated to more frequent cannabis use. The lack of relation to cannabis use frequency may be at least partially due to lack of attention to cannabis use context. It may be that socially anxious persons engage in frequent solitary cannabis use, perhaps using before social situations in the hope that being intoxicated during the social event will help them feel less anxious. In fact, using cannabis alone has been associated with experiencing more cannabis-related problems in prior work. METHODS: The current study sought to identify whether solitary cannabis use frequency mediated the relationship between social anxiety and cannabis-related problems among 276 current cannabis using undergraduates who completed an online survey of putative predictors of substance use. RESULTS: Social anxiety was robustly related to more frequent solitary (but not social) cannabis use and solitary cannabis use frequency uniquely mediated the relation of social anxiety to cannabis use and related problems. DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS: Frequent solitary use appears to play an important role in the experience of cannabis-related problems among socially anxious persons. SCIENTIFIC SIGNIFICANCE: Intervention strategies may benefit from targeting frequent solitary cannabis use, particularly among at-risk users such as those with elevated social anxiety.

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The American journal on addictions

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