Motivations to quit cannabis use in an adult non-treatment sample: are they related to relapse?

Addict Behav. 2013 Sep;38(9):2422-7. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2013.04.002. Epub 2013 Apr 16.


Background: The majority of cannabis smokers who quit do so without formal treatment, suggesting that motivations to quit are an important part of cessation process. However, little is known about how motivations relate to successful quitting.

Method: A convenience sample of 385 non-treatment-seeking adult cannabis smokers (58% male, age 16-64years at start of quit attempt) who made a "serious" (self-defined) quit attempt without formal treatment while not in a controlled environment were administered the 176-item Marijuana Quit Questionnaire (MJQQ) to assess their motivations to quit and outcome of the quit attempt. Exploratory factor analysis was performed to identify significant motivational factors. Subgroup comparisons used t-tests and ANOVA. Cox proportional hazard regression and the General Linear Model were performed to evaluate the influence of motivational factors, gender, and age on relapse status at time of interview and risk of relapse over time, with time between quit attempt and interview as a covariate.

Results: Exploratory factor analysis identified 6 motivational factors with eigenvalues >1 which accounted for 58.4% of the total variance: self-image and self-control, health concerns, interpersonal relationship concerns, legal concerns, social acceptability concerns, and self-efficacy. Women were more likely than men to be motivated by self-image/self-control, health concerns, and social acceptability concerns. Older individuals were more likely to be motivated by health concerns. At the time of interview, 339 subjects had relapsed. Self-image and self-control, health concerns, interpersonal relationship concerns, and social acceptability concerns were associated with greater likelihood of abstinence at the study interview. Legal concerns and social acceptability concerns were associated with significantly lower hazard ratios (0.88, 0.83) for relapse during the abstinent period.

Conclusion: These findings show gender and age differences in motivations to quit cannabis smoking and that adult cannabis smokers have motivations to quite similar to those of adolescent cannabis smokers and of adults who quit alcohol and tobacco use without formal treatment. The findings suggest areas of focus to improve secondary prevention and psychosocial treatment efforts.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Male
  • Marijuana Abuse / psychology*
  • Marijuana Abuse / rehabilitation
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation*
  • Recurrence
  • Self Concept
  • Social Desirability
  • Statistics as Topic*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*
  • Young Adult