Is Cannabis Use Associated with Various Indices of Motivation among Adolescents?

Subst Use Misuse. 2018 Jun 7;53(7):1158-1169. doi: 10.1080/10826084.2017.1400566. Epub 2017 Dec 22.


Decreased motivation is often noted as a consequence of cannabis use (CU). Previous work has yielded mixed findings, relied mostly on adult samples, and varied to the extent that it accounted for potential confounds. This study examines associations between CU and several motivation indices among adolescents. We hypothesized that regular cannabis users would report lower motivation than light users, and that greater lifetime and past 30-day CU amounts would be associated with decreased motivation. Participants were 79 adolescents, ages 14-18, classified as recent regular cannabis users (n = 36) or light users (n = 43). Frequency and amount of substance use were assessed across participants' lifetime and during the past 30 days. Motivation was measured through the Apathy Evaluation Scale and Motivation and Engagement Scale. To examine associations between CU and our motivation indices, we conducted a series of two-step hierarchical multiple regressions. Variables found to correlate with any motivation measure were entered on step 1 (e.g., mental health, other substance use) and the relevant CU variable was entered on step 2. After controlling for confounds, no significant differences were observed between regular and light users on any motivation index, p > .01. Similarly, no associations between motivation and lifetime or past 30-day CU amount were observed, p > .01. Our findings do not support a link between reduced motivation and CU among adolescents after controlling for relevant confounds. Future studies will examine the levels of CU which influence motivation in adolescents, and the conditions under which this link becomes manifest.

Keywords: Adolescence; apathy; cannabis; motivation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Marijuana Use / psychology*
  • Motivation*