Friday, January 14, 2022
Treasury, ML 4 (Marriott Marquis Washington, DC)
* noted as presenting author
Background and Purpose: Explore the self-reported impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on cannabis use and other substance use behaviors among college students meeting criteria for cannabis use disorder (CUD). Methods: Data include cross-sectional baseline data (collected in November and December 2020) from an ongoing prospective cohort study of college students meeting criteria for CUD at a large public university in the mid-Western United States (N=150; Mean age=20.6, SD=2.4; female=57%; White=90%; Heterosexual=67%). Descriptive analyses, correlations, and paired samples t-tests were conducted using baseline data from the first wave of surveys collected. Results: Compared to cannabis use prior to the pandemic, participants retrospectively reported an increase in cannabis use during the first phase of the pandemic when state, local, and university stay-at-home/quarantine orders were in place (d=.42; p<.001). This increase in cannabis use during the first phase of the pandemic was correlated with number of CUD symptoms (r=.36, p<.001), cannabis use consequences (r=.26, p<.01); and greater cannabis use (r=.28, p<.01), reported eight months after the pandemic began. Participants retrospectively reported an increase in their consumption of cannabis through smoking (57.3%), vaping (26.6%), dabbing (25.3%), eating (34.7%), drinking (12.0%), and skin absorption (2.7%), during the pandemic compared to the 30 days prior to the onset of the pandemic. Reporting greater cannabis use in the 30 days prior to the study was associated with an increase in the use of amphetamine-type drugs not as prescribed (r=.29; p<.001) and consuming cannabis by dabbing (r=.35; p<.001) since the pandemic began. Conclusions and Implications: These data suggest that many college students with CUD experienced an increase in cannabis use during the first phase of the pandemic, which was associated with greater CUD symptoms and related consequences. Of concern, greater cannabis use was also associated with reported increase in misuse of amphetamine-type drugs. Future research should explore long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on CUD outcomes in this at-risk population.