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Points Bibliography: Marijuana, Memory, and Craving

Updated: Aug 29, 2023

Editor’s Note:  These entries are part of an ongoing drug-related dissertation bibliography being compiled by Jonathon Erlen. They were formerly published in the Social History of Alcohol and Drugs journal but are now periodically featured on the Points blog. For more information, contact Dr. Erlen through the link above.

Cannabis Users’ Experience of Cannabis Craving: A Test of the Cue-Reactivity Model

Author: Loflin, Mallory J. E.

Abstract: Despite craving’s emphasis in treatment programs, little research has been conducted that specifically focuses on cannabis craving. Cannabis use, however, is the second most commonly cited reason for entering treatment for substance abuse and dependency. An understanding of how cannabis users experience craving is necessary. The current study compared heavy/daily cannabis users with infrequent users on measures of craving following presentation of cannabis cues. Hypotheses predicted changes in physiological (heart rate, galvanic skin response) and cognitive (simple reaction time, attentional bias) correlates of craving, and increased self-reported craving following cannabis cue exposure. Results found no significant increase in most indicators of craving. Only galvanic skin response was impacted by presentation of drug cues. Findings are inconsistent with previously published work on cannabis craving, suggesting the need for further research.

Publication year: 2016

ISBN: 9781339998435

Advisor: Earleywine, Mitch

Committee members: Gordis, Elana; Hormes, Julia

University/institution: State University of New York at Albany

Department: Clinical Psychology

The Impact of Marijuana Use on Memory in Patients with HIV/AIDS

Author: Skalski, Linda Marie

Abstract: The most robust neurocognitive effect of marijuana use is memory impairment. Memory deficits are also high among persons living with HIV/AIDS, and marijuana use among this population is disproportionately common. Yet research examining neurocognitive outcomes resulting from co-occurring marijuana and HIV is virtually non-existent. The primary aim of this case-controlled study was to identify patterns of neurocognitive impairment among HIV patients who used marijuana compared to HIV patients who did not use drugs by comparing the groups on domain T-scores. Participants included 32 current marijuana users and 37 non-drug users. A comprehensive battery assessed substance use and neurocognitive functioning. Among the full sample, marijuana users performed significantly worse on verbal memory tasks compared to non-drug users and significantly better on attention/working memory tasks. A secondary aim of this study was to test whether the effect of marijuana use on memory was moderated by HIV disease progression, but these models were not significant. This study also examined whether the effect of marijuana use was differentially affected by marijuana use characteristics, finding that earlier age of initiation was associated with worse memory performance. These findings have important clinical implications, particularly given increased legalization of this drug to manage HIV infection.

ISBN: 9781369025989

Advisor: Meade, Christina S.   Sikkema, Kathleen J.

Committee member: Curry, John F.; Moffitt, Terrie E.; Schramm-Sapyta, Nicole L.

University/institution: Duke University

Department: Psychology and Neuroscience

The Influence of Doctoral Psychology Trainees’ Personal Cannabis Use, Perceptions of Cannabis’ Risks, and Attitudes toward Substance Use on Ability to Identify Cannabis Use Disorder

Author: Stratyner, Alexandra G.

Abstract: The incidence of cannabis use disorder is increasing across the United States as a function of increased cannabis use (Hasin et al., 2015); accordingly, it is critical that mental healthcare professionals be able to accurately identify cannabis use disorder. In light of this imperative, the current study explored potential barriers to diagnosing cannabis use disorder among doctoral psychology trainees. Participants (N = 123) were doctoral students in clinical psychology, counseling psychology, and related disciplines. Utilizing a quasi-experimental analogue design, the study examined whether doctoral psychology trainees’ personal cannabis use predicted their perceptions of the risks of cannabis use and attitudes toward substance use. Additionally, the study explored whether doctoral psychology trainees’ personal cannabis use histories, perceptions of cannabis’ risks, and attitudes toward substance use would predict accurate diagnosis of cannabis use disorder. A series of t-tests revealed that trainees’ beliefs about the risks of cannabis use and attitudes toward substance use varied with history and recency of personal cannabis use. Additionally, partial correlation analyses revealed that doctoral psychology trainees’ perceptions of cannabis’ risks were negatively correlated with select attitudes toward substance use. Despite these findings, the study found that none of the attitudes explored significantly predicted diagnostic decisions among trainees. Additionally, contrary to study hypotheses, current cannabis use among doctoral psychology trainees increased the likelihood that trainees would accurately make a diagnosis of cannabis use disorder. Implications for graduate training, clinical practice, and public health are considered and recommendations for future research are provided.

Publication year: 2016

ISBN: 9781339822839

Advisor: Palmer, Laura K.

Committee members: Cole, Brian P.; Farrelly, Margaret Jones; Smith, John

University/institution: Seton Hall University

Department: Professional Psychology and Family Therapy


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