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The Marijuana Check-up: reaching users who are ambivalent about change


Robert S. Stephens Department of Psychology 0436 Blacksburg VA 24061 USA E-mail:


Aims  A brief intervention called the Marijuana Check-up (MCU) was designed to attract adult marijuana users who were experiencing adverse consequences, but who were ambivalent about change and would be unlikely to seek treatment. Our objective was to determine whether the MCU would reach the target population.

Design  Comparisons were made between those who enrolled in the MCU versus those who were screened but failed to follow through with enrollment on demographic, drug use and stage of change variables. Comparisons were also made between participants in the MCU and participants in a concurrently offered treatment project that targeted marijuana users who wanted to quit.

Setting  The study took place at the University of Washington in Seattle.

Participants  Participants were adult marijuana users who telephoned and expressed interest in the MCU (n = 587).

Measurement  Study variables included stage of change, frequency and duration of drug use, DSM-IV cannabis dependence and abuse diagnoses and negative consequences of marijuana use assessed via interviews and questionnaires.

Findings  Callers to the MCU were near-daily marijuana users, two-thirds of whom were in the pre-contemplation or contemplation stage of change. Participants who enrolled in the MCU reported fewer problems related to marijuana use and less readiness to make changes compared to those enrolled in the treatment study, despite similar levels of drug use.

Conclusions  The MCU attracted and enrolled near-daily users of marijuana who experienced negative consequences but were ambivalent about making changes. The MCU potentially has a role in the continuum of care for substance abuse problems.