Home > Cannabis use, anxiety, and perceptions of risk among Canadian undergraduates. The moderating role of gender.

Hellemans, Kim and Wilcox, Jessica and Nino, Julian N and Young, Matthew and McQuaid, Robin J . (2019) Cannabis use, anxiety, and perceptions of risk among Canadian undergraduates. The moderating role of gender. Canadian Journal of Addiction, 10 (3) 22-29. doi: 10.1097/CXA.0000000000000059

URL: https://journals.lww.com/cja/Fulltext/2019/09000/C...

As nonmedical cannabis is now legal in Canada, it is important to understand the complex relationship between perceptions of risk, problematic cannabis use and mental health among young adults.

Objectives: To assess whether perceptions of risk associated with cannabis relates to cannabis use among young adults. Moreover, we explored whether current symptoms of anxiety were also related to problematic use, and the role of gender in this relationship.

Methods: Self-report surveys were completed by 1043 Carleton University students. Students completed several questionnaires assessing perceptions of risk associated with cannabis use, and cannabis use and anxiety symptoms.

Results: Males were significantly more likely to rate some of the harms associated with cannabis use as less risky, and reported higher rates of cannabis use. We also found that problematic cannabis use was positively related to anxiety symptoms, and this relationship was moderated by gender such that greater cannabis use related to higher anxiety scores more strongly among females.

Conclusions: Our study yields valuable information regarding how Canadian youth perceive the risks associated with cannabis use; critically, males are more likely to perceive minimal risk with use and are also more likely to use problematically. By contrast, cannabis use is more strongly related to anxiety among females. These results have important implications for education and outreach campaigns associated with the legalization of cannabis and cannabis products in Canada.

Item Type:Evidence resource
Drug Type:Cannabis
Intervention Type:AOD disorder, AOD prevention, AOD disorder harm reduction
Date:September 2019
Subjects:B Substances > Cannabis / Marijuana
F Concepts in psychology > Emotion (anxiety, emotional pain)
F Concepts in psychology > Psychological stress
F Concepts in psychology > Attitude and behaviour > Attitude toward substance use
F Concepts in psychology > Specific attitude and behaviour > risk-taking behaviour
J Health care, prevention and rehabilitation > Risk and protective factors > Risk factors
T Demographic characteristics > Adolescent / youth (teenager / young person)
T Demographic characteristics > Young adult
T Demographic characteristics > Gender differences
T Demographic characteristics > Undergraduate or graduate student
VA Geographic area > Canada

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