Craving management: Exploring factors that influence momentary craving-related risk of cannabis use among young adults

Addict Behav. 2021 Apr;115:106750. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2020.106750. Epub 2020 Dec 3.


Young adult frequent cannabis use has increased in prevalence and some frequent users have problems reducing their use. A strong link between momentary craving and subsequent use behaviors among individuals with problematic cannabis use has been reported in the literature, including young adults. In treatment contexts, interventions based on associative learning and reinforcement aim to reduce the prevalence of problematic substance use by altering the association between craving and use by increasing craving management skills such as mindfulness and reducing unhelpful responding such as avoidance or suppression. However, this model has not been tested among young adult cannabis users. The current study examined the influence of trait and state craving management strategies (mindfulness, coping style, experiential avoidance, and craving beliefs) on the link between momentary craving and use, using ecological momentary assessment in a sample of young adults with problematic use interested in reducing their use. Results demonstrated that two craving management constructs were associated with use: non-reactivity (p = 0.02) and non-judgment (p < 0.01). Interactions with momentary craving were observed for two constructs: non-judgmentalness (p = 0.02) and craving beliefs (p < 0.01). Findings suggest that treatments that increase non-reactivity and non-judgmentalness may reduce the occurrence of cannabis use for young adults contemplating reduction during an important period of biopsychosocial development by mitigating the impact of craving or directly reducing use. Additionally, negative beliefs about craving may serve a protective function during acute periods of elevation in momentary craving, an unexpected finding deserving further investigation.

Keywords: Cannabis use; Coping; Craving; Ecological momentary assessment; Mindfulness.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Cannabis*
  • Craving
  • Ecological Momentary Assessment
  • Humans
  • Mindfulness*
  • Substance-Related Disorders*
  • Young Adult