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Real-time Passive and Ecological Momentary Assessment of Substance Use and Self- Regulatory Targets in Cannabis Using Youth

Funding Source

National Institute on Drug Abuse – Center for Technology and Behavioral Health Pilot Core

Project Period

2016 – 2017

Principal Investigator

Amy Hughes Lansing, PhD

Other Project Staff

Alan Budney, PhD; Catherine Stanger, PhD; Andrew Campbell, PhD; Emily Scherer, PhD

Project Summary

Adolescent substance use disorders with cannabis use as the primary substance are increasing in the U.S. Self-regulation, the ability to modulate cognition, emotion, and behavior towards a goal, is a domain-general process implicated through neural and psychosocial research as a mechanism underlying substance use disorders. Interventions for adolescent cannabis use often target specific self-regulatory skills (e.g., resisting or “riding out” cravings, initiating healthier behavioral responses) or the modification of self-regulatory context (e.g., incentivizing abstinence, enhancing motivation, increasing parental monitoring). However, these interventions demonstrate suboptimal success rates. Novel assessment and treatment methods for targeting self-regulation in teens that are regularly using cannabis are needed.

Daily self-regulation may be a novel intervention target for facilitating reductions in or abstinence from cannabis use. Self-regulation capacity varies from day to day and this temporal variability is critical to understanding and explaining event-level health behavior. Yet, daily self-regulation, including links between daily self-regulation and cannabis use, as well as daily and momentary predictors of poor self-regulation and cannabis use (e.g., associations with state-like factors such as craving, stress, affect, and sleep, or with aspects of the social and physical environment such as location or companionship), has not been examined in youth regularly using cannabis.

The goal of this project is (1) to assess the acceptability and feasibility of passive sensing with ecological momentary assessment in youth regularly using cannabis, and (2) to use such data to identify vulnerable states and high-risk contexts for poor daily self-regulation and cannabis use. Successful completion of this project will facilitate the development and testing of a just-in-time adaptive intervention (JITAI) for adolescents with cannabis use disorders. JITAI designs are ripe for the development of an intervention that targets daily self-regulation and provides support precisely when teens are in vulnerable states or high-risk contexts.