Motivational and Mindfulness Intervention to Reduce Marijuana Use by Young Females

Passing a joint

Young Adult Females’ Use of Marijuana

Marijuana is a widely used substance throughout the United States and has been linked to varying psychosocial issues, such as poor academic and professional achievement and reliability, accidents while working, and increased susceptibility to mental health disorders like depression and anxiety (de Dios, Herman, Britton, Hagerty, Anderson, & Stein, 2011). Researchers and clinicians have identified increasing use of marijuana as a public health problem, and as such, ample research has been conducted about marijuana users, trends, and treatment outcomes. A gap, however, exists in research targeting young adult female users. In an effort to better understand treatment options for this population, this group of researchers seek to address this gap (de Dios et al., 2011). One of the chief goals of the study they designed is to curb some of the negative consequences associated with use by young adult females, such as inconsistent condom use and increased sexual activity under the influence, both of which heighten the risk of unwanted pregnancy and contraction of sexually transmitted diseases (De Genna, Cornelius, & Cook, 2007; Poulin & Graham, 2001).


Motivational Interviewing

The intervention method the researchers chose to assess is motivational interviewing (MI). It is a client-centered method that focuses on decreasing ambivalence about an identified clinical issue/s through psychoeducation, designing strategic goals for wellness, and allowing for self-determination in the client’s treatment journey. Motivation interviews have demonstrated effectiveness in adolescents and young adults in previous research studies (McCambridge & Strang, 2004; Walker, Roffman, Stephens, Wakana, Berghuis, & Kim, 2006). Thus, de Dios et al. (2011) designed a randomized study in which 332 women between the ages of 18 and 24 were assigned to either a 2-session MI intervention or an assessment-only intervention. 


Importance of Desire to Quit

The results of the MI intervention were insignificant at one month, significant at 3 months, and no longer significant at 6 months. However, the investigators note that, among the 61% of participants who espoused a desire to quit using marijuana, the MI intervention was statistically significant at all three intervals: 1 month, 3 months, and 6 months (de Dios et al., 2011, p. 57). They emphasize the aforementioned caveat to demonstrate that MI is potentially most effective in circumstances where individuals already hold some desire to stop using. This finding is important for clinicians seeking to develop the most effective treatment approaches for individual clients.


Alternative Coping Skills for Anxiety

It was noted that many of the study’s participants reported using marijuana as a self-treatment for anxiety. The researchers therefore introduced mindfulness exercises as a supplement to MI interventions (de Dios et al., 2011). The mindfulness exercises and meditation were used in conjunction with MI in an attempt to teach participants alternative coping skills to deal with reported anxiety. Based on participants’ reports, the women in the study group were half as likely to use marijuana on days when they had meditated (de Dios et al., 2011, p. 62). Due to the study’s limitations, however, no broad significant conclusions can be drawn on the use of mindfulness exercises and marijuana use.





de Dios, M., Herman, D., Britton, W., Hagerty, C., Anderson, B., & Stein, M. (2011). Motivational and mindfulness intervention for young adult female marijuana users. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 42, 56-64.


De Genna, N., Cornelius, M., & Cook, L. (2007). Marijuana use and sexually transmitted infections in young women who were teenage mothers. Women’s Health Issues, 17, 300-309.


McCambridge, J., & Strang, J. (2004). The efficacy of single-session motivational interviewing in reducing drug consumption and perceptions of drug-related risk and harm among young people: Results from a multi-site cluster randomized trial. Addition, 99, 39-52.


Poulin, C., & Graham, L. (2001). The association between substance use, unplanned sexual intercourse, and other sexual behaviors among adolescent students. Addition, 96, 607-621.


Walker, D., Roffman, R., Stephens, R., Wakana, K., Berghuis, J., & Kim, W. (2006). Motivational enhancement therapy for adolescent marijuana users: A preliminary randomized trial. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 74, 628-632.

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