Exploring the Relationship Between ADHD Symptoms and Daily Cannabis Consequences in Emerging Adulthood: The Role of Cannabis Motives

J Stud Alcohol Drugs. 2021 Mar;82(2):228-236.


Objective: Research has documented the relationship between attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and increased cannabis use, but the studies largely rely on cross-sectional or longitudinal designs. Few studies have examined the impact of recent (i.e., past 6 months) ADHD symptoms on more proximal cannabis-related factors. The purpose of the current study was to examine the relationship between cannabis use motives (coping, boredom, and sleep) and consequences and the impact of ADHD symptoms on these relationships.

Method: Participants were 62 emerging adults (ages 19-25 years; M = 22.12, SD = 2.07; 60% male) who used cannabis regularly (two or more times in the past 2 weeks) and completed a screener assessing past-6-months ADHD symptoms at baseline followed by 14 daily reports on cannabis use, consequences, and motives.

Results: Across the 14 days, cannabis consequences were higher for participants with greater past-6-months symptoms of ADHD. In addition, on days when participants used cannabis for boredom and on days when they used cannabis for sleep, cannabis consequences were higher. Although greater past-6-months ADHD symptoms were associated with more consequences on days when sleep motives were endorsed, contrary to hypotheses, the strength of this relationship was greater on days when sleep motives were not endorsed. Overall, greater daily consequences for those with higher ADHD symptoms may reflect exacerbation of these symptoms, and follow-up analyses revealed that the cannabis consequences associated with higher ADHD scores were indeed ones that overlap with ADHD symptoms.

Conclusions: The results suggest that ADHD symptoms, along with sleep and boredom motives, contribute to increased daily cannabis consequences and should be considered in developing interventions for emerging adults.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / physiopathology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Marijuana Use / epidemiology*
  • Motivation*
  • Young Adult