Cannabis craving in response to laboratory-induced social stress among racially diverse cannabis users: The impact of social anxiety disorder

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Social anxiety disorder appears to be a risk factor for cannabis-related problems. Although it is presumed that increases in cannabis craving during elevated social anxiety reflect an intent to cope with greater negative affectivity, it is unclear whether increases in physiological arousal during social stress are related to cannabis craving, especially among those with social anxiety disorder. Similarly, no studies have assessed motivational reasons for cannabis use during elevated social stress. Thus, the current study tested whether increases in state social anxiety (measured subjectively and via physiological arousal) were related to greater cannabis craving among 126 current cannabis users (88.9% with cannabis use disorder, 31.7% with social anxiety disorder, 54.0% non-Hispanic Caucasian) randomly assigned to either a social interaction or reading task. As predicted, cannabis users in the social interaction condition reported greater cannabis craving than those in the reading condition. This effect was particularly evident among those with social anxiety disorder. Although physiological arousal did not moderate the relationship between condition and craving, coping motives were the most common reasons cited for wanting to use cannabis and were reported more among those in the social interaction task. These experimental results uniquely add to a growing literature suggesting the importance of elevated state social anxiety (especially among those with social anxiety disorder) in cannabis use vulnerability processes.

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Journal of psychopharmacology (Oxford, England)

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