Cannabis-Related Problems and Social Anxiety: The Mediational Role of Post-Event Processing

Anthony H. Ecker, Department of Veterans Affairs , South Central MIRECC , Houston , Texas , USA.
Julia D. Buckner, Department of Psychology , Louisiana State University , Baton Rouge , Louisiana , USA.


BACKGROUND: Cannabis is the most commonly used illicit drug in the US, and is associated with a range of psychological, social, and physical health-related problems. Individuals who endorse elevated levels of social anxiety are especially at risk for experiencing cannabis-related problems, including cannabis use disorder, despite not using cannabis more often than those with more normative social anxiety. Identification of mechanisms that underlie the relationship between social anxiety and cannabis-related problems may inform treatment and prevention efforts. Post-event processing (PEP, i.e., cognitively reviewing past social interactions/performances) is a social anxiety-related phenomenon that may be one such mechanism. OBJECTIVES: The current study sought to test PEP as a mediator of the relationship between social anxiety and cannabis-related problems, adjusting for cannabis use frequency. METHOD: Cannabis-using (past 3-month) undergraduate students recruited in 2015 (N = 244; 76.2% female; 74.2% Non-Hispanic Caucasian) completed an online survey of cannabis use, cannabis-related problems, social anxiety, and PEP. RESULTS: Bootstrap estimate of the indirect effect of social anxiety through PEP was significant, suggesting PEP is a mediator of the social anxiety-cannabis-related problems relationship. Conclusions/Importance: Treatment and prevention efforts may benefit from targeting PEP among individuals with elevated social anxiety and cannabis-related problems.