What is it about?

Relationships have been established between trauma exposure and cannabis use but it isn't entirely clear whether cannabis use helps or harms trauma recovery. Could characteristics related to cannabis use help clarify inconsistent results? We asked cannabis users with a history of trauma to share patterns and beliefs related to their use. This paper examines whether beliefs about controlling cannabis use are associated with trauma-related distress. It also explores whether beliefs are especially important in certain situations.

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Why is it important?

Our findings show that stronger beliefs about controlling cannabis use may be associated with better outcomes for trauma survivors. Yet, this may not be the case for cannabis use across the board. It may be especially important that survivors believe they are capable of controlling their use when they are emotionally distressed. This is important because it starts to clarify the nuanced relationship between trauma recovery and cannabis use. It suggests that cannabis use in certain situations may not benefit, or harm, trauma recovery. Instead, beliefs about cannabis use and patterns of cannabis use during times of emotional distress may be especially important for survivors during the recovery process. It is important that survivors understand this information, as well as mental health providers treating survivors with cannabis use.


A primary goal of writing this article was to approach this topic without an agenda - to remain open to whatever possibilities emerge in order to better understand and help trauma survivors who choose to use cannabis. I hope this article helps people consider the grey areas surrounding trauma recovery and cannabis use. I hope it stimulates thoughts and discussions about characteristics that are important to explore.

Julie Hurd
University of Colorado at Colorado Springs

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Not how often but when: Self-efficacy to control cannabis use and PTSS., Psychological Trauma Theory Research Practice and Policy, August 2022, American Psychological Association (APA), DOI: 10.1037/tra0001347.
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