Abstinence and moderate use goals in the treatment of marijuana dependence


Brian E. Lozano, Department of Psychology, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, 109 Williams Hall, Blacksburg, VA 24061. E-mail: blozano@vt.edu


Aims  The purpose of this study was to examine the influence of personal goals (abstinence or moderation) on treatment outcomes for marijuana use. Hypotheses regarding self-efficacy for goal attainment were tested.

Design  Adult marijuana users seeking treatment were assigned randomly to three treatment conditions: (1) cognitive-behavioral relapse prevention support group; (2) individualized brief motivational enhancement; and (3) delayed treatment control group. Follow-up assessments were conducted at 4, 7, 13 and 16 months. 

 Setting  University research offices. 

Participants  Participants were 291 adult marijuana users. 

Measurements  Marijuana use, personal treatment goals and self-efficacy for achieving one’s goal were assessed across the 16-month follow-up.

Findings  Greater marijuana related problems and dependence symptoms were associated with an initial goal of abstinence. Participants were more likely to achieve outcomes consistent with their personal goals. Participants with abstinence goals reported greater self-efficacy for goal achievement than those with moderation goals after participating in the abstinence oriented treatment; self-efficacy for goal success predicted goal achievement for both moderate use and abstinence goals.

Conclusions  Marijuana users approaching an abstinence-oriented treatment varied in the extent to which they were actively seeking abstinence as the outcome. Differences in goals were predictable from severity of problems related to use. Goal preference and self-efficacy for achieving goals predicted outcomes. Future research should incorporate personal goals into treatment and assess their effects on outcomes.