Motives for Alcohol and Cannabis Use among Individuals with Concurrent Use
Motives are an individual’s reasons for engaging in substance use. Commonly, there is a four-factor model of motives for alcohol comprised of coping, social, conformity, and enhancement motives. Similarly, there is a five-factor model of cannabis motives comprised of the same alcohol factors with the addition of a fifth enhancement motive. Alcohol motives and cannabis motives have been thoroughly examined as indicators for use and consequences within substances (e.g., alcohol motives predicting alcohol outcomes). However, as rates of concurrent substance use increase, it is important to understand how motives relate to use not only within substances, but across substances.
To that end, Rutgers Center of Alcohol and Substance Use Studies postdoctoral fellow, Jordan Gette, PhD, along with her colleagues Tre Gissandaner, PhD., Columbia Department of Psychiatry and Andrew Littlefield, PhD, Texas Tech University Department of Psychological Sciences, examined a sample of emerging adults endorsing both cannabis and alcohol use to determine if motives were related to use across substances (e.g., alcohol motives with cannabis outcomes) and if there were distinct classes of motives among those endorsing past year concurrent use. These authors found that alcohol motives were largely unrelated to cannabis use behaviors (i.e., quantity and frequency), but greater alcohol motives were positively related to cannabis use disorder symptoms. Conversely, cannabis motives were unrelated to alcohol use outcomes with the exception of positive relations between cannabis conformity and alcohol use disorder symptoms. Cannabis conformity motives were also positively related to alcohol binges and frequency when the sample was restricted to those endorsing concurrent use in the past two weeks.
Next, these authors examined whether there were specific patterns of motives using latent class analysis. For the past year sample, three classes emerged: a class endorsing high motives, a class endorsing low conformity motives, and a class endorsing high levels of positive alcohol motives (i.e., social and enhancement). When the sample was restricted to past two-week concurrent use, two classes emerged: high motives and low motives. Importantly, for both class solutions, class membership was related to significant differences in alcohol and cannabis use behaviors and use disorder symptoms.
Broadly, this work highlights that those endorsing concurrent use appear to have different motives for engaging in alcohol and that motives for one substance do not broadly relate to use of another substance. Further, unique motives classes can be derived from motives and class membership is related to use patterns and consequences. Importantly, results differed based on timeframe selections (i.e., past year use v. past two-week use), highlighting an important consideration for researchers and clinicians. Next steps from this work will include examination of motives at the day- and event-level to discern how fluctuations in motives for cannabis and alcohol within persons relates to use and consequences of use. Further, emerging literature has began to investigate motives specific to simultaneous cannabis and alcohol use to discern if there are patterns of motives for simultaneous use that are distinguishable from single substance motives.
Source: Gette, J. A., Gissandaner, T. D., & Littlefield, A. K. (2021). Alcohol and cannabis cross motives, class analysis, and substance use among concurrent users. Substance Use & Misuse, 56(14), 2085-2095.