Publications by authors named "Mitch Earleywine"

78 Publications

Associations between Cannabis Use and Sexual Risk Behavior among Women under Community Supervision: A Brief Report.

Int J Sex Health 2021 22;33(2):123-130. Epub 2021 Apr 22.

School of Social Work, Columbia University, New York, NY, USA.

Objectives: Cannabis use and sexual risk behavior have been found to co-occur, but more research on these associations is needed among criminal justice-involved women (i.e., courts, jails, or prisons).

Methods: Regression models examined past 90-day cannabis use on unprotected sex, multiple sexual partners, and STIs/HIV among 306 women under NYC community supervision, adjusting for alcohol, other illicit substances, and socio-demographics.

Results: Cannabis use, but not alcohol or other illicit substance use, was positively associated with having unprotected sex and multiple sexual partners, but not STIs or HIV.

Conclusions: Criminal justice-involved women may benefit from sexual risk reduction interventions incorporating cannabis content.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/19317611.2020.1864558DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8345327PMC
April 2021

Alcohol use, cannabis use, and psychopathology symptoms among college students before and after COVID-19.

J Psychiatr Res 2021 10 22;142:73-79. Epub 2021 Jul 22.

Department of Psychology, University at Albany, The State University of New York, Albany, NY, USA.

College students have experienced significant disruptions related to COVID-19, and limited international data suggest they may be at elevated risk for mental health symptom increases related to COVID. Given their potentially elevated risk, our aim was to evaluate differences from pre-college closures to post-closure in mental health symptoms, alcohol, and cannabis use. Participants (N = 4749) were from seven U.S. public universities/colleges. They were 70.1 % female and 48.5 % white, non-Hispanic/Latino, with 48.1 % in their first college/university year. 30-day retrospective assessments of alcohol and cannabis use, and past 2-week retrospective assessments of anxiety, depression, anger, and insomnia were captured at the time of the survey. We examined differences between those providing data pre- and post-university closure via linear and negative binomial regressions. Alcohol and cannabis use days were 13 % and 24 % higher, respectively, from pre-to post-university closure; also, prevalence of any 30-day alcohol use and alcohol use consequences were both higher in the post-closure sample (odds ratios = 1.34 and 1.31, respectively). In contrast, days of binge alcohol use were 4 % lower in the post-closing sample. Depressive symptoms and anger were both modestly higher in post-closing participants (d < 0.1), with no differences in anxiety symptoms or insomnia. The modest differences in substance use and mental health from pre-closure through two months post-college closure suggest unexpected resilience in a large and diverse sample of students. College health providers will need to identify those students experiencing the greatest increases in mental health symptoms and substance use, using innovative outreach and treatment.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jpsychires.2021.07.040DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8417751PMC
October 2021

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Ketamine, and Combination Treatment for Depression: Impressions of Credibility in Participants with Self-Reported Depressive Symptoms.

J Psychoactive Drugs 2021 Apr 20:1-11. Epub 2021 Apr 20.

Centre for Compassionate Care, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

Ketamine, a novel treatment for depression, has generated considerable interest and research. Few experiments address lay impressions of the credibility of ketamine treatment relative to another popular intervention for depression, CBT. Over 500 participants with depressive symptoms read descriptions of CBT, ketamine, and a treatment that combined the two. Descriptions included pros and cons of each approach. Participants found the combination treatment more credible than ketamine but no better than CBT alone. They rated the credibility of CBT alone significantly higher than ketamine alone. Participants with psychotherapy experience tended to view ketamine as less credible than those who did not report previous psychotherapy. Depression scores did not covary with credibility ratings for any treatment. Despite media coverage and Internet claims, potential clients are cautious about ketamine. These results suggest that providing descriptions of treatments might help reveal important information about their credibility to potential clients. Extended work assessing impressions of many approaches to the treatment of psychopathology and other problems appears justifiable. Given established links between credibility and treatment outcome, additional research on individual differences in perceptions of ketamine and varied treatments for depression seems warranted.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02791072.2021.1912863DOI Listing
April 2021

Packing cannabis, pouring alcohol: Validating a free-pack assessment among college students using cannabis.

Psychol Addict Behav 2021 Apr 1. Epub 2021 Apr 1.

Department of Psychology.

Long-standing challenges in quantifying cannabis use make assessment difficult, potentially complicating attempts to minimize harm. Our study investigated how accurately undergraduates who use substances estimate amounts of alcohol through a behavioral pouring task. We also aimed to validate a free pack assessment in which participants similarly estimated amounts of cannabis. We further examined how estimations related to consequences and protective behavioral strategies (PBS). Participants completed a free pour task and a modified free "pack" task to measure out and estimate quantities of alcohol and cannabis, and self-reported use, problems, PBS, and social context ( = 264; = 19.2, 67.10% Female, 46.20% White). Both tasks indicated high rates of misestimating amounts. Over 80% of the sample misestimated alcohol and cannabis amounts by more than 10%. Students typically underestimated the actual amount of alcohol that they poured, but the trend was opposite for cannabis. Discrepancies in packing joints decreased as quantity-specific cannabis PBS increased, but increased with more frequent cannabis use. Both alcohol and cannabis PBS decreased their respective consumption and negative consequences. A considerable proportion of young adults inaccurately estimate quantities, which is related to negative outcomes. Discrepancies are associated with problems, and interventions may benefit from targeting improvements in accuracy to prevent future harms and enhance protective strategies for specific substance use methods. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/adb0000718DOI Listing
April 2021

Cannabis-induced oceanic boundlessness.

J Psychopharmacol 2021 Jul 28;35(7):841-847. Epub 2021 Mar 28.

Department of Psychology, University at Albany, SUNY, Albany, USA.

Background: Despite tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)'s reputation for creating dramatic effects at high doses, empirical work rarely addresses cannabis's impact on subjective responses common to the tryptamine psychedelics. We focused on these effects because they have preceded and covaried with the therapeutic impact of psilocybin in previous work.

Aims: The current study examined if self-reported responses to cannabis products might parallel those found in clinical trials of psilocybin administration. We also investigated if measures of demographics and cannabis use might correlate with these responses.

Methods: Participants reported the subjective effect of their highest THC experience using 27 items that assess oceanic boundlessness, a correlate of mystical experiences. They also answered infrequency items and questions on demographics and cannabis consumption.

Results: In an effort to address concerns about replication, we divided respondents who passed infrequency items into two random samples. Self-reported "breakthrough" experiences were significantly greater than zero but significantly lower than those reported in randomized clinical trials of psilocybin (17-19% vs. 59%). Total scores covaried with perceived dosages of THC, but only in one sample. Heavier users of cannabis reported lower scores.

Conclusions: Self-report data suggest that high doses of cannabis can create subjective effects comparable to those identified in trials of psilocybin that precede relief from cancer-related distress, treatment-resistant depression, alcohol problems, and cigarette dependence. Given the disparate mechanisms of action, comparing THC-induced to psilocybin-induced effects might improve our understanding of the mechanisms underlying subjective experiences. This work might also support the development of a cannabis-assisted psychotherapy comparable to psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0269881121997099DOI Listing
July 2021

Factor analysis of a short form of the Protective Behavioral Strategies for Marijuana scale.

Addict Behav 2021 06 4;117:106852. Epub 2021 Feb 4.

Department of Psychology, University at Albany, State University of New York, USA.

Objective: The Protective Behavioral Strategies for Marijuana Scale (PBSM), a 17-item scale targeting strategies for mitigating the negative consequences of cannabis use, highlights a range of behaviors that can reduce harm beyond straightforward decreases in quantity or frequency. The 17-item scale's factor structure remains under-examined but could reveal meaningful distinctions among strategies. This study aimed to confirm the factor structure of the short form of the PBSM.

Methods: This study recruited cannabis-using undergraduates (N = 454,M = 19.6, 68.8% female, 39% White), who reported using cannabis approximately 2.3 days per week with mild cannabis-related consequences (CAPQ; M = 9.74).

Results: A confirmatory factor analysis demonstrated poor fit for the one-factor model of the PBSM, prompting an exploratory factor analysis. Analyses revealed two internally reliable factors: a "Quantity" factor, strategies specific to mitigating overuse and limiting amounts consumed and an "Context" factor loosely related to troubles with others. This two-factor model accounted for over half of the total variance; invariance testing indicated reduced fit as models became more restrictive. Though each of the factors covaried negatively with both days of use and problems, Context had a stronger relation to both variables compared to Quantity. Only Context predicted fewer cannabis problems and use.

Conclusions: The two-factor solution suggests further work on the psychometric properties of the scale could provide heuristic information to allow for more nuanced approaches in clinical and research settings. Theoretically, each factor might have novel links to some constructs but not others in ways that could assist harm-reduction strategies and treatment.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.addbeh.2021.106852DOI Listing
June 2021

Age-Related Differences in Cannabis Product Use.

J Psychoactive Drugs 2021 Jan 12:1-7. Epub 2021 Jan 12.

Department of Psychology, University at Albany, State University of New York, Albany, NY, USA.

Cannabis use varies with age and gender, but less is known regarding specific product choices. Previous work suggests that older adults are inclined to stick to the more "classic" and familiar, while "novel" products are more likely to appeal to younger populations. We examined cross-sectional, retrospective data to determine whether the type of cannabis products used varied according to participant age ( = 1406, 71.3% female). The extensive list of products included: loose flower, pre-rolled joints, edibles, concentrates, oil vaporizers (vape pens), dry vaporizers, tinctures, topicals, and ingestible oils. Overall, rates of use for cannabis-infused ingestible oils, topicals, and tinctures are the lowest and show no age or gender-related differences. In contrast, the use of pre-rolled joints, vape pens, and edibles tends to decrease with age. Loose flower and dry vaporizer use also decrease with age, although less consistently. These age-related differences in product choices can facilitate prevention and treatment efforts toward specific populations. While harm-reduction efforts targeting loose flower and edible products would benefit all age groups, those targeting concentrates might focus only on younger users. On the other hand, learning about concentrates might be beneficial for older medical users due to their larger THC doses and rapid onset.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02791072.2020.1870778DOI Listing
January 2021

Cannabis and Vulvodynia Symptoms: A Preliminary Report.

Cannabis 2020 Jul;3(2):139-147

University at Albany, State University of New York, Albany, NY, USA.

Medical marijuana has a long history of use as an analgesic for chronic pain disorders, including dyspareunia (pain during intercourse), a hallmark of the rare chronic pain disorder vulvodynia. Many women's health topics remain under investigated. Few studies address cannabis's potential to treat vulvodynia symptoms despite their dramatic impact on quality of life. Women who had used cannabis and who reported experiencing vulvodynia symptoms ( = 38) completed an online survey assessing symptoms, expectancies regarding cannabis-associated relief from vulvodynia symptoms, cannabis use, and cannabis-related problems. Generally, women expected cannabis to have moderate to large effects on vulvodynia symptoms ( = .63-1.19). Nevertheless, women expected greater relief for burning/stabbing pain than for itching and pain associated with tampon insertion, as well greater relief for dyspareunia than for pain associated with tampon insertion. Those whose symptoms were worse expected more relief from cannabis treatment. Expectations of cannabis-induced relief did not increase frequency of use or problems. These data support the idea that further work is warranted, including placebo-controlled randomized clinical trials to rule out any placebo effects and identify potential adverse side effects from a cannabis treatment for vulvodynia.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.26828/cannabis.2020.02.001DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7787394PMC
July 2020

Confirming Savoring's Link to Fewer Cannabis Problems.

J Psychoactive Drugs 2021 Jul-Aug;53(3):201-206. Epub 2020 Nov 22.

Department of Psychology, University at Albany, State University of New York, Albany, NY, USA.

Savoring has covaried inversely with cannabis problems and moderated the association between cannabis use and negative consequences related to use. Research has not yet addressed the acceptability of savoring interventions for cannabis users. The present study aimed to replicate the finding of savoring as a protective factor against problems for cannabis users. The second aim of the study was to examine preferences for a savoring intervention among problem-endorsing cannabis users. We sampled 447 (63.3% female) problem users who self-reported cannabis use, cannabis problems, savoring beliefs, and preferences for cannabis use interventions. On average, our sample reported using cannabis 4.7 days per week and 16.03 times per month, with men endorsing significantly more cannabis-related problems than women. Savoring did increase as problems decreased, but the moderator effect did not replicate. Problem cannabis users preferred a savoring intervention to a typical harm reduction intervention across all sampled demographics, with one notable exception: women were 1.73 times more likely to prefer a savoring intervention. Our findings confirmed that cannabis problems decrease as savoring increases and identified a preference for a savoring intervention among problem users.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02791072.2020.1853284DOI Listing
November 2020

Replicating the Dimensional Structure of Cannabis Problems: A Taxometric Analysis.

Subst Use Misuse 2021 3;56(1):81-86. Epub 2020 Nov 3.

Department of Psychology, University at Albany, Albany, New York, USA.

Objective: This study employed taxometric procedures to replicate a previous report of the dimensional structure of problems related to cannabis consumption. Over 4,000 cannabis users completed an assessment of psychological, social, occupational, and physical harms (the Marijuana Problems Scale). Three taxometric procedures (MAMBAC, MAXEIG, and L-Mode) compared the current data to simulations with a base rate of problematic cannabis use derived from representative, large-scale data estimates. All three procedures confirmed the continuous, dimensional nature of these cannabis problems and suggested no underlying taxon or category. Psychopathological disorders, including some substance use problems, have fit categorical models suggesting that they differ in kind (rather than intensity) from the behavior of the rest of the population. Cannabis problems, however, appeared to lie along a continuum with other forms of use. Given heightened awareness for the necessity of replication and a changing legal landscape for cannabis, a second look at the dimensionality of these problems seemed warranted. New data with a larger sample and different indices of problematic use confirmed the dimensionality of cannabis problems. This replication can inform predictions about the etiology, prevention, and treatment of cannabis use disorder. Researchers should expect cannabis problems to range along a continuum without categorical distinctions. Dividing users into groups of problematic and non-problematic users likely sacrifices meaningful variance. Harm reduction strategies likely can benefit all users rather than a targeted taxon with troubles. In addition, interventions will likely progress by small, incremental steps rather than dramatic, categorical jumps in progress.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10826084.2020.1840589DOI Listing
June 2021

Gender-based differential item functioning in the Cannabis-Associated Problems Questionnaire: A replication and extension.

Addict Behav 2021 01 13;112:106658. Epub 2020 Sep 13.

Department of Psychology, University at Albany, State University of New York, Albany, NY, USA.

Background: Gender bias in measures of cannabis problems may differentially affect how men and women endorse items. This gender invariance might mask, exaggerate, or otherwise obscure true distinctions in experiences of cannabis consequences.

Methods: The Cannabis-Associated Problems Questionnaire (CAPQ), a measure of interpersonal deficits, occupational impairment, psychological issues, and physical side effects related to cannabis use, contained items with gender-based differential item functioning (DIF) in previous work-a finding we aim to replicate and extend (Lavender, Looby, & Earleywine, 2008).

Results: In a sample of 4053 cannabis users, gender differences were apparent in global scores on the CAPQ. A DIF analysis revealed two gender-biased items, including one identified previously. Removal of these items did not significantly alter the scale's relation to cannabis use. Gender differences on the CAPQ persisted after removal of the two problematic items, indicating true gender differences still exist in men and women's experiences of cannabis-related consequences. Gender appeared to significantly contribute to scores on the full CAPQ and the short-form of the CAPQ with biased item removed, even after controlling for indices of cannabis use.

Conclusions: These findings suggest that the CAPQ evidences less gender bias than previously thought, perhaps due to diminishing gender-based stereotypes. Future work might opt to use the short form of the CAPQ to minimize gender-based DIF. In addition, potential biases in measures of substance use problems deserve more attention.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.addbeh.2020.106658DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7810355PMC
January 2021

Savoring Moderates the Link between Marijuana Use and Marijuana Problems.

Subst Use Misuse 2020 25;55(2):291-295. Epub 2019 Sep 25.

University at Albany, State University of New York, Albany, New York, USA.

The changing legal landscape for marijuana requires concerted efforts toward minimizing the potential harms related to use of the plant. Identifying buffers against negative consequences in regular users could help researchers fashion prevention efforts that could appeal to those who are uninterested in messages related to abstinence. Savoring, a positively-focused, mindful approach to making the most of positive experiences, appears to overlap with facets of treatment that have proven successful with problem users. The present study examined the role of savoring in the development of marijuana-related problems. We examined the potential role of savoring as a buffer against marijuana problems in 195 participants (27.3% female). Participants in this sample used cannabis 3.06 days per week on average. Correlations revealed that problems decreased as savoring increased. In addition, a significant interaction revealed that savoring moderated the impact of frequent use on problems. As savoring increased, the positive association between frequency of use and negative consequences decreased, suggesting that those who are high on savoring experience fewer negative consequences than those who are low on savoring even when they use marijuana as frequently. These data support the idea of incorporating savoring into the prevention of marijuana problems.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10826084.2019.1666145DOI Listing
October 2020

Effects of Messaging and Psychological Reactance on Marijuana Craving.

Subst Use Misuse 2019 16;54(14):2359-2367. Epub 2019 Aug 16.

University at Albany, State University of New York, Albany, NY, USA.

: Psychological Reactance Theory asserts that people experience reactance (a motivational state characterized by negative affect and cognition) when they perceive threats to their autonomy. Reactance may lead to "boomerang effects" by which individuals engage in the opposed behavior. : This experiment sought to determine whether a message encouraging marijuana (MJ) abstinence evoked greater reactance than a harm-reduction message and whether the message and reactance influenced individuals' attitudes, MJ craving, and intent to comply with the message request. : College students and community members ( = 388) participated in an online study where they were randomly assigned to receive a message promoting MJ abstinence or harm reduction. Regression analyses adjusting for MJ use, alcohol use, and age determined the effects of the message and reactance on individuals' attitudes, MJ craving, and intent to comply. Follow-up analyses determined the significant reactance subscales. : The abstinence message evoked greater reactance than the harm reduction message and led to less favorable attitudes toward the advocated behavior. Across messages, reactance (specifically negative cognitive appraisal) was related to less favorable attitudes toward the advocated behavior and the study, as well as lower intent to comply. Additionally, reactance (specifically anger) was associated with greater self-reported craving. : Anti-MJ messages designed to discourage use might heighten reactance and inadvertently lead to greater craving and intent to use. The link between reactance and craving may be more affectively mediated than the link between reactance and message rejection.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10826084.2019.1650771DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7069836PMC
May 2020

Aversiveness and Meaningfulness of Uncomfortable Experiences with Edible Cannabis.

J Psychoactive Drugs 2019 Nov-Dec;51(5):413-420. Epub 2019 Jul 29.

Department of Psychology, University at Albany, State University of New York, Albany, USA.

Cannabis remains the most frequently used illicit drug in the United States. As its legal status has changed, more people have turned to oral administration ("edibles"). 172 individuals who reported an uncomfortable experience with edible cannabis completed an online survey. Despite the aversive nature of the experience, 62.9% of the sample reported that the edible experience was at least somewhat meaningful and the majority of participants (95.2%) did not report any medical problems. The most common non-medical problem reported was going to bed early or lying down (75.8%). Most participants (69.2%) reported that dose was the key contributor to their negative experience. Participants who rated the experience as more aversive were less likely to use edibles again, r (167) = - .180, < . 05. In addition, the duration of the aversive experience correlated positively with aversiveness rating, r (167) = . 244, < . 05. With increased legalization of cannabis, edible use may rise. Dose seems to be associated with uncomfortable experiences with edible cannabis. Notwithstanding these uncomfortable experiences, the vast majority of the sample used cannabis edibles again, reported that the experience was at least somewhat meaningful, and did not report significant problems associated with the experience.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02791072.2019.1645371DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7472878PMC
June 2020

The Role of Impulsivity and Expectancies in Predicting Marijuana Use: An Application of the Acquired Preparedness Model.

J Psychoactive Drugs 2018 Nov-Dec;50(5):411-419. Epub 2018 Sep 5.

a Department of Psychology , University at Albany, State University of New York, Albany, NY, USA.

Impulsivity and substance use covary. Smith and Anderson's acquired preparedness model proposes that impulsivity predicts substance use through a mediational model such that substance use expectancies mediate the relation between impulsivity and drug use. The present study seeks to examine the relation between positive urgency, an important component of impulsivity with specific relations to substance use behavior, marijuana expectancies, and marijuana use patterns. The study focused on a sample of frequent marijuana users (n = 3,616) and assessed positive urgency using the UPPS-P, expectancies using the Biphasic Marijuana Effects Scale, an adapted form of the Biphasic Alcohol Effects Scale to measure the sedative and stimulant properties of marijuana, and also assessed use patterns. Findings suggest that stimulant expectancies predict heavier, more frequent marijuana use than sedative expectancies and that marijuana expectancies vary based on the limb of marijuana intoxication. Examination of the acquired preparedness model revealed that positive urgency's link to marijuana use was fully mediated by expectancies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02791072.2018.1511877DOI Listing
October 2019

Cannabis in End-of-Life Care: Examining Attitudes and Practices of Palliative Care Providers.

J Psychoactive Drugs 2018 Sep-Oct;50(4):348-354. Epub 2018 May 1.

a Department of Psychology , University at Albany, State University of New York , Albany , NY , USA.

Medical cannabis research has become quite extensive, with indications ranging from glaucoma to chemotherapy-induced nausea. Despite increased interest in cannabis' potential medical uses, research barriers, cannabis legislation, stigma, and lack of dissemination of data contribute to low adoption for some medical populations. Of interest, cannabis use appears low in palliative care settings, with few guidelines available to palliative care providers. The present study sought to examine the attitudes, beliefs, and practices of palliative care providers regarding the use of cannabis for terminally ill patients. Palliative care providers (N = 426) completed a one-time online survey assessing these attitudes, beliefs, and practices. Results demonstrated that palliative care providers endorse cannabis for a wide range of palliative care symptoms, end-of-life care generally, and as an adjuvant medication. Nevertheless, the gap between these beliefs and actual recommendation or prescription appears vast. Many who support the use of cannabis in palliative care do not recommend it as a treatment. These data suggest recommendations for healthcare providers and palliative care organizations.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02791072.2018.1462543DOI Listing
October 2019

Placebo Effects of Edible Cannabis: Reported Intoxication Effects at a 30-Minute Delay.

J Psychoactive Drugs 2017 Nov-Dec;49(5):393-397. Epub 2017 Aug 3.

d Adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry , Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania , Philadelphia , PA , USA.

Previous research has demonstrated the ability of non-active smoked cannabis cigarettes to induce subjective effects of intoxication (i.e., placebo effect). No studies have been conduced to test whether edible forms of cannabis, which are associated with a significant delay in onset of effect, are able to induce a placebo effect. In the present study, 20 participants were told that they would receive an edible cannabis lollipop containing a high dose of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), but were instead given a placebo control. Measures of intoxication and mood were taken at baseline, 30 minutes, and 60 minutes post-ingestion of the placebo lollipop. Results of four repeated-measures ANOVAs found significant and quadratic changes across time in cannabis (ARCI m-scale) intoxication (F(2,18) = 4.90, p = .01, η = .22) and negative mood (F(2,18) = 3.99, p = .05, η = .19). Changes in positive mood and the overall measure of general intoxication (ARCI) failed to reach significance. The present study provides preliminary evidence that a placebo effect can be induced with inert edible agents when participants are told that they are receiving active THC. This is the first known study to demonstrate an edible cannabis intoxication placebo effect.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02791072.2017.1354409DOI Listing
July 2018

Medicinal versus recreational cannabis use: Patterns of cannabis use, alcohol use, and cued-arousal among veterans who screen positive for PTSD.

Addict Behav 2017 05 6;68:18-23. Epub 2017 Jan 6.

Center of Excellence in Substance Abuse Treatment and Education, Philadelphia VAMC, United States; Department of Psychiatry, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, United States.

Introduction: The present study is the first to test whether veterans who use cannabis specifically for the purposes of self-medication for their reported PTSD symptoms differ from veterans who use cannabis medicinally for other reasons, or recreationally, in terms of patterns of cannabis use, use of alcohol, and reactivity to written combat trauma reminders.

Methods: Assessment measures were administered online to a sample of veterans with a history of cannabis use (n=1971). Cued arousal was assessed pre/post via a prompt about combat experiences. Hypotheses were tested using a series of Bonferroni corrected one-way analyses of variance, t-tests, bivariate and partial correlations, and a Chi-square test.

Results: Compared to recreational users, veterans who identify as medicinal cannabis users reported greater combat exposure (d=0.56), PTSD symptoms (d=1.02), subjective arousal when cued (d=0.25), and cannabis use (d=0.40; d=0.42), but less alcohol use (d=0.28). Few differences were observed between medicinal users who reported using for PTSD versus those who reported using for other reasons.

Conclusions: Compared to those who use cannabis recreationally, veterans who report that they use cannabis medicinally use more cannabis and endorse significantly more symptoms of arousal following a prompt about combat trauma experiences.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.addbeh.2017.01.008DOI Listing
May 2017

The effects of perceived quality on behavioral economic demand for marijuana: A web-based experiment.

Drug Alcohol Depend 2017 Jan 21;170:174-180. Epub 2016 Nov 21.

Department of Psychology, University at Albany, State University of New York, Albany, NY 12222, USA.

Background: Given the growing legalization of recreational marijuana use and related increase in its prevalence in the United States, it is important to understand marijuana's appeal. We used a behavioral economic (BE) approach to examine whether the reinforcing properties of marijuana, including "demand" for marijuana, varied as a function of its perceived quality.

Methods: Using an innovative, Web-based marijuana purchase task (MPT), a sample of 683 young-adult recreational marijuana users made hypothetical purchases of marijuana across three qualities (low, mid and high grade) at nine escalating prices per joint, ranging from $0/free to $20.

Results: We used nonlinear mixed effects modeling to conduct demand curve analyses, which produced separate demand indices (e.g., P, elasticity) for each grade of marijuana. Consistent with previous research, as the price of marijuana increased, marijuana users reduced their purchasing. Demand also was sensitive to quality, with users willing to pay more for higher quality/grade marijuana. In regression analyses, demand indices accounted for significant variance in typical marijuana use.

Conclusions: This study illustrates the value of applying BE theory to young adult marijuana use. It extends past research by examining how perceived quality affects demand for marijuana and provides support for the validity of a Web-based MPT to examine the appeal of marijuana. Our results have implications for policies to regulate marijuana use, including taxation based on the quality of different marijuana products.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2016.11.013DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5183559PMC
January 2017

Determining Cannabis Use Status From a Photograph: An Assessment of the "Jay-dar" in Neuropsychologists.

Subst Use Misuse 2017 02 25;52(3):401-410. Epub 2016 Oct 25.

b Social Sciences, University at Albany , State University of New York , Albany , New York , USA.

Background: Few studies examining the cognitive effects of chronic cannabis use utilize research designs where examiners are blind to user status. Even in those that do, researchers may be able to guess the user status of participants, leaving these studies vulnerable to the expectancy effect confound.

Objectives: The present study examined the ability of neuropsychologists (those who would conduct research on the cognitive effects of cannabis) to differentiate cannabis users and nonusers based on physical appearance from photographs.

Method: We recruited 84 participants from an international neuropsychology listserv. The sample was 59.5% female and 95.2% Caucasian, with a mean age of 41.39 years (range 26-65). Each neuropsychologist rated 25 target faces (12 cannabis users, 13 nonusers) on a Marijuana Use Likelihood Index based upon individuals' photographs.

Results: Results indicate a main effect of user group, as neuropsychologists ascribed higher ratings to cannabis users on the Marijuana Use Likelihood Index, suggesting they perceive them as more likely to be users, relative to nonusers. Results also demonstrated a main effect of gender, as males received higher user ratings than females, and a significant main effect of rater gender, as female raters were more likely to rate individuals as cannabis users relative to male raters. Conclusions/Importance: The results demonstrate the importance of assessing researchers' expectations when studying the effects of chronic cannabis use, as even those designs that keep examiners blind to participant user status may be vulnerable to expectancy effects if examiners are able to guess user status based upon appearance alone.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10826084.2016.1233564DOI Listing
February 2017

Trying to remember: Effort mediates the relationship between frequency of cannabis use and memory performance.

J Clin Exp Neuropsychol 2017 Jun 18;39(5):502-512. Epub 2016 Oct 18.

b State University of New York , University at Albany , Albany , NY , USA.

Introduction: While many studies suggest that regular cannabis use leads to deficits in cognitive functioning, particularly in memory, few have measured effort put forth during testing, and none have examined this as a potential mediator. Both age of onset of regular cannabis use and frequency of use have been linked to increased risk of memory deficits. The present study sought to determine whether effort mediated the relationship between frequency or age of onset of cannabis use and learning and memory performance.

Method: Sixty-two participants (74% male, mean age = 19.25 years) who met criteria for chronic cannabis use (four or more days per week for at least 12 months) completed a neuropsychological battery including the California Verbal Learning Test-II (CVLT-II) and the Rey Complex Figure (RCF) as measures of learning and memory, and the Word Memory Test (WMT) as a measure of effort put forth during neuropsychological assessment.

Results: Participants who more frequently used cannabis exhibited poorer effort (as measured by WMT performance; p < .01). Bootstrapping yielded 95% confidence intervals for indirect effects and revealed that effort significantly mediated the relationship between frequency of cannabis use and CVLT-II Learning (Sum of Trials 1-5), CVLT-II Delayed Recall, and RCF Delayed Recall, but not RCF Immediate Recall. Age of onset of cannabis use was not significantly related to effort.

Conclusions: Findings indicate that effort mediates the relationship between frequency of cannabis use and performance on learning and memory measures, suggesting that effort performance should be measured and controlled for in future studies assessing cognition in frequent cannabis users.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13803395.2016.1237617DOI Listing
June 2017

Safer sex in a digital world: A Web-based motivational enhancement intervention to increase condom use among college women.

J Am Coll Health 2016 ;64(3):184-93

a Department of Psychology , University at Albany, State University of New York , Albany , New York , USA.

Objective: This study is a randomized trial of a Web-based intervention to increase condom use among college women.

Participants: From October 2012 to March 2013, N = 422 completed baseline questionnaires and intervention procedures. n = 216 completed 3-month follow-up.

Methods: Participants completed a decisional balance exercise examining their sex acts over the past 3 months and wrote an essay encouraging young girls to use condoms. All procedures were conducted online.

Results: The intervention improved intentions to use and attitudes towards condoms for 3 subscales of condom attitudes. Attitudes following the intervention significantly predicted condom use at 3-month follow-up, and this relationship was mediated by condom intentions immediately post intervention. The relationship between intentions and condom use was moderated by group.

Conclusions: The intervention improved condom attitudes and intentions immediately post intervention, and immediately post intervention intentions had a greater impact on condom use at 3-month follow-up among those in the condom intervention compared with those in the control group.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/07448481.2015.1107835DOI Listing
March 2017

Considering alternative calculations of weight suppression.

Eat Behav 2016 Jan 12;20:57-63. Epub 2015 Nov 12.

University at Albany, SUNY, Department of Psychology, 399 Social Sciences, 1400 Washington Avenue, Albany, NY 12222, USA. Electronic address:

Weight suppression (WS)--the difference between an individual's highest adult weight and current weight-relates to eating pathology and weight gain; however, there are several methodological issues associated with its calculation. The current study presents four alternative methods of calculating WS and tests whether these methods differentially relate to maladaptive outcomes. Alternative methods of calculation included: (1) change in BMI units; (2) BMI category change; (3) percent change in weight; and (4) two different uses of regression residuals. A sample of undergraduate students (N=631) completed self-report measures of eating pathology, current and past weight, and teasing. Measures included the Eating Disorder Examination-Questionnaire and the Perceptions of Teasing Scale. Results indicated that components of WS, current weight and highest weight, were strongly related in the present sample. The traditional method of calculating WS was related to eating pathology, binge eating and teasing for both males and females. However, WS indices orthogonal to the highest weight did not correlate with eating pathology and teasing in both males and females; for females, WS indices orthogonal to current weight were also unrelated to eating pathology. Findings suggest that the link between WS and eating pathology is mitigated after accounting for an individual's highest weight. Future research should continue to assess the reliability and clinical utility of this construct and consider using alternative WS calculations.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.eatbeh.2015.11.003DOI Listing
January 2016

Gender-moderated links between urgency, binge drinking, and excessive exercise.

J Am Coll Health 2016 ;64(2):104-11

a Department of Psychology , University at Albany, State University of New York , Albany , New York , USA.

Objective: Exercise correlates with alcohol use, but the nature of this relation and the extent to which it is maladaptive remains unclear. Urgency and motives for engaging in drinking and exercise might indicate when these behaviors are problematic. The current study examined whether urgency moderated the association between exercise motivated by weight loss and drinking.

Participants: College students (N = 589, 45.7% male) completed the study during the spring of 2012.

Methods: Participants completed self-report assessment measures, including frequency/quantity of alcohol consumption, exercise for weight loss, and urgency, during a single session.

Results: Negative urgency moderated the relation between exercise and alcohol consumption in men but not women; the link between excessive exercise and alcohol use was stronger for men with higher levels of urgency.

Conclusions: Further clarification of the mechanisms underlying alcohol use and physical activity-particularly maladaptive approaches to exercise-will inform health interventions among college students.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/07448481.2015.1085056DOI Listing
February 2017

Preliminary data suggest rates of male military sexual trauma may be higher than previously reported.

Psychol Serv 2015 Nov;12(4):344-7

College of Nursing.

Stigma associated with disclosing military sexual trauma (MST) makes estimating an accurate base rate difficult. Anonymous assessment may help alleviate stigma. Although anonymous research has found higher rates of male MST, no study has evaluated whether providing anonymity sufficiently mitigates the impact of stigma on accurate reporting. This study used the unmatched count technique (UCT), a form of randomized response techniques, to gain information about the accuracy of base rate estimates of male MST derived via anonymous assessment of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF)/Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) combat veterans. A cross-sectional convenience sample of 180 OEF/OIF male combat veterans, recruited via online websites for military populations, provided data about history of MST via traditional anonymous self-report and the UCT. The UCT revealed a rate of male MST more than 15 times higher than the rate derived via traditional anonymous assessment (1.1% vs. 17.2%). These data suggest that anonymity does not adequately mitigate the impact of stigma on disclosure of male MST. Results, though preliminary, suggest that published rates of male MST may substantially underestimate the true rate of this problem. The UCT has significant potential to improve base rate estimation of sensitive behaviors in the military.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/ser0000047DOI Listing
November 2015

Rethinking dose-response effects of cannabis use in adolescence.

Lancet Psychiatry 2014 Nov 5;1(6):416-7. Epub 2014 Nov 5.

Center for the Study of Cannabis and Social Policy, Seattle, WA, USA.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S2215-0366(14)00007-8DOI Listing
November 2014

No smoke, no fire: What the initial literature suggests regarding vapourized cannabis and respiratory risk.

Can J Respir Ther 2015 ;51(1):7-9

Habits and Lifestyles Laboratory, Department of Psychology, University at Albany, State University of New York, Albany, New York, USA.

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http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4456813PMC
June 2015

Psychometric validation of the BDI-II among HIV-positive CHARTER study participants.

Psychol Assess 2015 Jun 24;27(2):457-66. Epub 2014 Nov 24.

Department of Psychology, University at Albany, State University of New York.

Rates of depression are high among individuals living with HIV. Accurate assessment of depressive symptoms among this population is important for ensuring proper diagnosis and treatment. The Beck Depression Inventory-II (BDI-II) is a widely used measure for assessing depression, however its psychometric properties have not yet been investigated for use with HIV-positive populations in the United States. The current study was the first to assess the psychometric properties of the BDI-II among a large cohort of HIV-positive participants sampled at multiple sites across the United States as part of the CNS HIV Antiretroviral Therapy Effects Research (CHARTER) study. The BDI-II test scores showed good internal consistency (α = .93) and adequate test-retest reliability (internal consistency coefficient = 0.83) over a 6-mo period. Using a "gold standard" of major depressive disorder determined by the Composite International Diagnostic Interview, sensitivity and specificity were maximized at a total cut-off score of 17 and a receiver operating characteristic analysis confirmed that the BDI-II is an adequate diagnostic measure for the sample (area under the curve = 0.83). The sensitivity and specificity of each score are provided graphically. Confirmatory factor analyses confirmed the best fit for a three-factor model over one-factor and two-factor models and models with a higher-order factor included. The results suggest that the BDI-II is an adequate measure for assessing depressive symptoms among U.S. HIV-positive patients. Cut-off scores should be adjusted to enhance sensitivity or specificity as needed and the measure can be differentiated into cognitive, affective, and somatic depressive symptoms.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/pas0000040DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4442079PMC
June 2015

Factor structure and gender stability in the multidimensional condom attitudes scale.

Assessment 2015 Jun 18;22(3):374-84. Epub 2014 Aug 18.

University at Albany, State University of New York, Albany, NY, USA.

Sexually transmitted infections continue to trouble the United States and can be attenuated through increased condom use. Attitudes about condoms are an important multidimensional factor that can affect sexual health choices and have been successfully measured using the Multidimensional Condom Attitudes Scale (MCAS). Such attitudes have the potential to vary between men and women, yet little work has been undertaken to identify if the MCAS accurately captures attitudes without being influenced by underlying gender biases. We examined the factor structure and gender invariance on the MCAS using confirmatory factor analysis and item response theory, within-subscale differential item functioning analyses. More than 770 participants provided data via the Internet. Results of differential item functioning analyses identified three items as differentially functioning between the genders, and removal of these items is recommended. Findings confirmed the previously hypothesized multidimensional nature of condom attitudes and the five-factor structure of the MCAS even after the removal of the three problematic items. In general, comparisons across genders using the MCAS seem reasonable from a methodological standpoint. Results are discussed in terms of improving sexual health research and interventions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1073191114547887DOI Listing
June 2015
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