Increase and Decrease of Other Substance Use During Recovery From Cannabis Use Disorders

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Little is known about whether recovery from one addiction is associated with increased or decreased risk of subsequent other addictions. This study explored self-reported increases and decreases in other substance use among individuals who have recovered from cannabis use disorder. Media recruitment was used to obtain a sample of 119 individuals with lifetime but not past year cannabis use disorder (30% female). The median length of recovery was 5.0 years. Results showed that both increase and decrease in the use of other substances is very common in recovery from cannabis use. In general, other substance use decreased more than it increased. Individuals who reported only a decrease in other substance use (39%) and individuals who reported both increases and decreases in various substances (21%) reported a greater degree of cannabis-related problems and treatment-seeking than individuals who only reported an increase (26%) or no change (14%). Individuals who only increased use of other substances reported fewer cannabis-related problems and were more likely to have had self-directed recoveries. They were also less likely to use helping relationships (e.g., friends, family) as a recovery process and self-help group involvement as a maintenance strategy. Their recoveries seem to have been less socially influenced and socially imbedded than individuals who reduced other substance use. The findings suggest that treatment involvement and social influences may successfully discourage use of other substances upon recovery from cannabis. However, the impact of such use or lack of use on individuals’ functioning needs to be clarified in future research.

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