The Prospective Effects of Perceived and Laboratory Indices of Distress Tolerance on Cannabis Use Following a Self-Guided Quit Attempt

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Abstract

The majority of individuals who attempt to quit using cannabis do not seek formalized treatment. To better understand which malleable factors contribute to cannabis use following a self-guided quit attempt, we concurrently examined 2 measures of distress tolerance (DT) as prospective predictors of cannabis use post quit attempt. We hypothesized that veterans with higher in relation to lower levels of DT would be less likely to use cannabis following a self-guided quit attempt. In this study, we included 103 cannabis-dependent veterans (Mage = 50, 95% male, 37% White, 36% Black, 14% Hispanic, 14% other) who reported being motivated to quit using cannabis. Veterans completed 2 measures of DT, the Distress Tolerance Scale (perceived distress tolerance) and the Mirror-Tracing Persistence Task (laboratory analogue of distress tolerance). Findings indicated that veterans with greater perceived distress tolerance used less cannabis over the quit period than did veterans with less perceived distress tolerance. However, contrary to expectations, baseline performance on a laboratory analogue of distress tolerance was not related to cannabis use over the quit period. Results suggest that veterans’ perceived ability to tolerate distress is an important predictor of cannabis use following a self-guided quit attempt. Thus, the Distress Tolerance Scale could serve as an important tool for helping to identify veterans at risk for cannabis use postquit.

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