Abstract:

The effects of cannabis use in university students as a coping mechanism for anxiety and stress have been extensively documented and supported in many studies. Respectively, the articles in this literature review highlight the effects of the use of cannabis in university students as well as students’ positive perceptions of cannabis use. Most of the studies talk about; Students’ motivation behind using cannabis and the role of stress as a motivation for cannabis misuse. Sequentially, the connection between stress and the use of cannabis. This paper gives balanced coverage of the existing literature on the chosen topic. The strengths and limitations, as well as considerations for future research, have also been considered. The scope of the literature has been indicated for use in this literature review. Also, meets the criteria of reliable literature as including the most recent and relevant studies; most of them are quantitative and a few are qualitative studies.

Introduction:

Cannabis use is continuously rising in university students as a coping mechanism for anxiety and stress. The use of marijuana has reached its highest position in the last few years. Marijuana use has been continuously rising among university students over the past five years and will remain at historically high levels among university students in 2020. According to Whiteley et al., (2021) “among college students, 44% reported using marijuana in the past year in 2020, compared to 38% in 2015, representing a significant increase. For young adults not in college, annual marijuana uses in 2020 remained at 43% the same historically high level as recorded in 2018 and 2019″ I have chosen this topic for a comprehensive literature review because the finding of this research area is very interesting and essential to know.

Some studies prove that the use of cannabis leaves an ailing effect on students’ health. Extensive scientific research has documented serious harm to the brain development of teenage students who regularly use cannabis as drugs as a coping mechanism for anxiety and stress. The excessive use of cannabis leads to mind-altering compounds that affect both students’ brains and bodies (Benz et al., 2021). As well, Heavy marijuana uses in students showed problems in scholastic performance, memory, and focus. Studies prove that students who were addicted to cannabis drugs got lower grades compared to students who did not use marijuana (Buckner et al., 2013). On the other side, a bunch of studies also, show that the balanced use of cannabis is beneficial in various considerations.

This paper has balanced coverage of what is available as literature. I have indicated the scope of the literature before using it in this paper. Also, it fulfills the criteria of analyzing and comparing literature as I have included the most recent and relevant studies; most of them are quantitative and few are qualitative studies.

Background

The use of cannabis has historical significance. Cannabis was first used medicinally around 400 ad. Later, in the U.S., during the 19th and early 20th centuries, cannabis was widely utilized as a patent medicine (Schepis et al., 2021). As well, the plants of cannabis have been used as drugs for recreational purposes as well as in various traditional medicines for centuries from native to southern and central Asia.

Today, cannabis is the most commonly used illicit drug. In the same regard, the use of cannabis among college students is widespread. According to a survey, the use of cannabis is rising among college students over the past 4  years (Hershkowith et al., 2021). The research represents a record of the highest use of cannabis since the 1990s, especially the significant increase in the annual use of hallucinogens, and a substantial increase in university students as a coping mechanism for anxiety and stress (Lanaway et al., 2019). Most users report experiencing problems related to cannabis use, including poor academic performance, procrastination, low productivity, memory loss, and missing days of work or class (Kilwein et al., 2020)

. This Literature Review aims to evaluate university students’ perceptions of cannabis use as well as the effects of cannabis use on students’ health. Apart from the above. This literature review focuses on the following research query:

1. Problems associated with using cannabis to cope with stress.
2. The use of cannabis is an unhealthy coping mechanism for anxiety and stress.
3. Role of stress as a motivation for cannabis misuse.
4. Students’ Motivations behind using Cannabis.
5. Students’ positive perceptions of cannabis use.

Literature review.

Many studies have already been taken on the effect of the use of cannabis on university students. Most of the studies emphasize that there is a link between students’ health and the effect of the use of cannabis. Most of the following studies show health problems because of cannabis use; however, students’ positive perceptions of cannabis use have also been discussed.

The use of cannabis is an unhealthy coping mechanism for anxiety and stress.

Böke & Heath (2019) found that stress is a common experience for university students. The stress of the study leads them towards the use of drugs as coping that ironically pushes them more towards the stress. In the experiment of this study, undergraduate students (N = 5,917) were examined so that it relationship can figure out between perceived stress and engagement in substance use. The results of this study indicate that higher stress is associated with students’ use of drugs, which is an unhealthy coping mechanism for anxiety and stress.

Role of stress as a motivation for cannabis misuse.

Another study by Hyman & Sinha, (2009) examines the role of stress as a motivation for cannabis misuse in university students. This research consists of a systematic review of studies that is gathered from Psych. INFO. On the other side, medicine databases were conducted to make them more effective and reliable. The findings of this study prove that people use cannabis as a stress-coping strategy which causes negative life events in the life of the user. In the discussion of the study, the researcher mentions that the use of cannabis for stress-coping purposes was most evident when examining chronic as compared with experimental use. However, this study also apprised that many individuals can use cannabis without consequences, but these individuals could be at the greatest risk for addiction. So, overall, this integrity-based research adds factual and scientific knowledge to the particular research area.

Kayser (2021) lists the symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder because of the use of cannabis. According to Kayser (2021), misuse of cannabis causes many psychological disorders. This study investigated the connection between the use of cannabis and obsessive-compulsive disorder. They have used mixed methods for their research. This research is conducted through an online survey. The survey of the research contained measures of OCD symptoms, cannabis misuse, and cannabis use motives. The results of the study showed that the severity of obsessive-compulsive disorder was related to the quantity of cannabis use, as OCD increased with more cannabis misuse.

 

Problems associated with using cannabis to cope with stress.

Previous research, the study by Hyman & Sinha (2009) has covered a connection between stress and cannabis. Spradlin & Cuttler, (2019) also focus on elucidating the nature of this link. Researchers examine whether cannabis use motives, such as using cannabis to cope with negative affect or not. This study was conducted on a sample of 578 cannabis-using college students. They completed an anonymous online survey. This survey was designed to measure their early life stress, frequency of cannabis use, chronic stress, and problematic use of cannabis. The finding of the study shows that the early life stress of the victims was significantly associated with more frequent cannabis use. The results of a series of parallel multiple mediation models of this study further revealed that cannabis coping motives aligned with using cannabis to cope with negative effects. So, it suggests that both early life stress and chronic stress may lead to the use of cannabis to cope with stress, which relates to the finding of Kayser et al., (2021).

Students’ positive perceptions of cannabis use.

Another study by Person et al (2017) finds students’ positive perceptions of cannabis use. This qualitative study explored post-secondary students’ perceptions of cannabis use that shows that students thoughtfully use cannabis by balancing various considerations. Participants of the study were 20 undergraduate students at a small liberal arts university in Atlantic Canada. To know their perception, semi-structured interviews were conducted. Also, a thematic analysis technique was used to analyze the interview. The finding of the study shows that students were thoughtfully using cannabis as they had various considerations in their minds in terms of health and academic performance. Further, the findings of the study found students were confident, satisfied, and held positive perceptions of cannabis use.

Students’ Motivations behind using Cannabis.

O’Callaghan & Joyce (2015) investigate the students’ motivations behind using cannabis in university. Students (n = 189) aged 17 to 29 years were part of the study. The survey was completed to assess the intention of the students to use cannabis. They were assessed on three questions: first, they were asked about the advantages and disadvantages of using cannabis; second, what they think and what they should do with cannabis use; and last, what are the factors that might encourage them to use or not use cannabis in the university. The finding of the study shows that the consumers believe that cannabis helps them feel relaxed, forget their worries, and relax from stress. As well, consumers believe certain factors, such as the force of habit, feeling stressed, and the company of being around other people who used can cannabis, ve encouraged them to use cannabis (O’Callaghan & Joyce, 2007).

Summary.

This literature review documented a bunch of qualitative as well as quantitative studies on the subject area of cannabis use and its effect on university students as coping for stress and anxiety. There is a discovered connection between health and the effect of the use of cannabis. Victims suffer from health problems such as suffering from lack of sleep, sleep disturbances, and decreased time to fall asleep (Buckner et al., 2013). Excessive use of marijuana in students causes problems in scholastic performance, memory, and focus. Students who were addicted to cannabis drugs got lower grades compared to students who did not use marijuana (Benz et al., 2021). But some students also showed positive perceptions of cannabis use. Also, there is a direct role of stress as a motivation for cannabis use in university students. People use cannabis as a stress-coping strategy and many individuals use cannabis without consequences. There is an interesting motive behind the use of cannabis in university students. Students believe that cannabis would help them feel relaxed, forget their worries, and relax from stress. In the same regard, consumers use cannabis as a force of habit, and because of the company of being around such as their friends and family.

 

Implication.

Public policymakers usually go through three major phases. First of all, they understand and identify the problems. In the second step, they used results to make policy, and set the agenda,  and thirdly, implementation and evaluated results. The finding of this literature identifies the problems in the use of cannabis that fulfill the basic requirements for policymaking.

Apart from policymaking, implications for Counselors, Clients, and Counseling could be derived through the findings of these studies. Most of the studies show that the use of cannabis causes different diseases, as the finding by Lee et al (2007). The results of this study can be used in counseling as a counterargument for those who do not believe in the effects of the use of cannabis.

The findings of these different studies help counselors to figure out the symptoms of their clients. Also, the finding of these studies can could help counselors support students in having the alternative solution to cope with the stress that does not involve any type of drugs. Finding ofBöke & Heath (2019) prove that Students get stressed and to avoid the stress they use drugs which ironically push them more towards stress.

Also, many studies have found that students face problems in academic performance and poor health because of the effects of cannabis use. These all help a counselor in guiding his clients. The finding of ‘Callaghan & Joyce (2015) can help counselors to understand the psychology of the students who use Cannabis. Most students use cannabis to feel relaxed and to forget their worries. So, the findings of this research can prove effective in controlling the use of cannabis.

Feature Research.

The articles presented in this paper all explain and identify the effects of cannabis. Ultimately, many researchers have concluded that there is a link between the use of cannabis and the poor health of students. These articles have significance because they enlighten a controversial, so it would be extremely beneficial to continue to research more on this topic so that we can have more accurate and scientific knowledge. A mixed-method (both quantitative and qualitative) could be used to continue this research area, but for this social issue, the qualitative method seems more effective. There should be surveys, experiments, and observational studies on the students who are addicted to cannabis. Also, the use of existing data should not be ignored.

Conclusion.

The use of cannabis is continuously rising in university students as a coping mechanism for anxiety and stress. Among university students, 44% reported using marijuana in the past year in 2020. The documented research is based on the serious harm to the brain development of teenage students who regularly use cannabis as a drug. Also, these problems further affect the scholastic performance and memory of the students as many studies prove that students who were addicted to cannabis drugs got poor grades and most of them could not graduate, compared to students who did not use cannabis. But true in all cases, some research also holds a positive perception about cannabis use, in terms of consideration of its moderate use as many.

This literature review fulfills the criteria of analyzing and comparing literature as it includes the most recent and relevant studies and most of them are quantitative. The study of Hyman & Sinha, (2009) examines the role of stress as a motivation for cannabis misuse in university students, making the greatest contribution to the understanding and development of the chosen topic of this literature review. This research consists of a systematic review of studies and medicine databases conducted tool. The findings of this study prove that people use cannabis for stress coping. Also, it teaches that maybe any individual can use cannabis without consequences, but he would be at the greatest risk for addiction. So, this study adds factual and scientific knowledge to the understanding and development of the chosen topic of this literature review.

In short, this paper has logically ordered research that focuses on themes rather than the authors. The concept of all studies moves from broader concepts to a more specific focus, having profound relevance to the topic of chosen research. Along with that, these articles do come with some limitations. In general, the findings of some studies could be questioned. In most of the studies, the participants were younger at public universities and are not a representative sample of all university students. Maybe the individuals who participated in these studies may not represent the entire population; however, the presented articles explain and identify the effects of cannabis use.

Reference
Aikins, R. D. (2011). Academic Performance Enhancement: A Qualitative Study of the Perceptions and Habits of Prescription Stimulant–Using College Students. Journal of College Student Development, 52(5), 560–576. https://doi.org/10.1353/csd.2011.0064
Amroussia, N., Watanabe, M., & Pearson, J. L. (2020). Seeking safety: a focus group study of young adults’ cannabis-related attitudes, and behavior in a state with legalized recreational cannabis. Harm Reduction Journal, 17(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12954-020-00442-8
Benz, M. B., Aston, E. R., Mercurio, A. N., & Metrik, J. (2021). The Potential Impact of Legalization of Recreational Cannabis among Current Users: A Qualitative Inquiry. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 1–8. https://doi.org/10.1080/02791072.2021.1959966
Böke, B., Mills, D., Mettler, J., & Heath, N. (2019). Stress and Coping Patterns of University Students. Journal Of College Student Development, 60(1), 85-103. https://doi.org/10.1353/csd.2019.0005
Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3(2), 77–101. https://doi.org/10.1191/1478088706qp063oa
Buckner, J. D., & Zvolensky, M. J. (2014). Cannabis and related impairment: The unique roles of cannabis use to cope with social anxiety and social avoidance. The American Journal on Addictions, 23(6), 598–603. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1521-0391.2014.12150.x
Buckner, J. D., Bonn-Miller, M. O., Zvolensky, M. J., & Schmidt, N. B. (2007). Marijuana use motives and social anxiety among marijuana-using young adults. Addictive Behaviors, 32(10), 2238–2252. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.addbeh.2007.04.004
Buckner, J. D., Ecker, A. H., & Vinci, C. (2013). Cannabis use vulnerability among socially anxious users: Cannabis craving during social interaction. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 27(1), 236–242. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0029763
Buckner, J. D., Walukevich, K. A., Lemke, A. W., & Jeffries, E. R. (2018). The impact of university sanctions on cannabis use: Individual difference factors that predict change in cannabis use. Translational Issues in Psychological Science, 4(1), 76–84. https://doi.org/10.1037/tps0000147
Deasy, C., Coughlan, B., Piro nom, J., Jourdan, D., & Mannix-McNamara, P. (2014). Psychological Distress and Coping among Higher Education Students: A Mixed Method Enquiry. PLoS ONE, 9(12), e115193. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0115193
Hyman, S., & Sinha, R. (2009). Stress-related factors in cannabis use and misuse: Implications for prevention and treatment. Journal Of Substance Abuse Treatment, 36(4), 400-413. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsat.2008.08.005
Jackson, K. M., Merrill, J. E., Stevens, A. K., Hayes, K. L., & White, H. R. (2021). Changes in Alcohol Use and Drinking Context due to the COVID‐19 Pandemic: A Multimethod Study of College Student Drinkers. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 45(4), 752–764. https://doi.org/10.1111/acer.14574
Kayser, R., Senter, M., Tobet, R., Raskin, M., Patel, S., & Simpson, H. (2021). Patterns of cannabis use among individuals with obsessive-compulsive disorder: Results from an internet survey. Journal Of Obsessive-Compulsive And Related Disorders, 30, 100664. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jocrd.2021.100664
Kilwein, T. M., Wedell, E., Herchenroeder, L., Bravo, A. J., & Looby, A. (2020). A qualitative examination of college students’ perceptions of cannabis: insights into the normalization of cannabis use on a college campus. Journal of American College Health, 1–9. https://doi.org/10.1080/07448481.2020.1762612
Lanaway, D., & Burlew, A. K. (2021). The Influence of Distressed Coping on the Relationship between Perceived Racial Discrimination and Cannabis Use among Black College Students. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 1–9. https://doi.org/10.1080/02791072.2021.1990443
Lee, C. M. & Woods, B. A.( 2007). Marijuana motives: Young adults’ reasons for using marijuana. Addictive Behaviors, 32(7), 1384–1394. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.addbeh.2006.09.010
MacDougall, C., & Maston, M. (2021). Student perceptions of cannabis use. Journal of American College Health, 1–15. https://doi.org/10.1080/07448481.2021.1910272
O’Callaghan, F., & Joyce, J. (2007). Cannabis: What Makes University Students More or Less Likely to Use It? Journal Of Applied Biobehavioral Research, 11(2), 105-113. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1751-9861.2006.tb00022.x
Pearson, M. R., Bravo, A. J., & Sotelo, M. (2019). A cross-cultural examination of college marijuana culture in five countries: Measurement invariance of the Perceived Importance of Marijuana to the College Experience Scale. Addictive Behaviors, 96, 11–17. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.addbeh.2019.04.004
Pearson, M. R., Liese, B. S., & Dvorak, R. D. (2017b). College student marijuana involvement: Perceptions, use, and consequences across 11 college campuses. Addictive Behaviors, 66, 83–89. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.addbeh.2016.10.019
Schepis, T. S., de Nadai, A. S., Bravo, A. J., Looby, A., Villarosa-Hurlocker, M. C., & Earleywine, M. (2021). Alcohol use, cannabis use, and psychopathology symptoms among college students before and after COVID-19. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 142, 73–79. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpsychires.2021.07.040
Spradlin, A., & Cuttler, C. (2019). Problems Associated with Using Cannabis to Cope with Stress. Cannabis, 2(1), 29-38. https://doi.org/10.26828/cannabis.2019.01.003
Whiteley, L., Haubrick, K. K., Arnold, T., Craker, L., Olsen, E., Hershkowitz, D., Maj, S., & Brown, L. K. (2021). Motivators for Cannabis Use Among Young Adults in Outpatient Psychiatric Care: A Qualitative Study. Motivators for Cannabis Use Among Young Adults in Outpatient Psychiatric Care: A Qualitative Study, 51(3), 590–604. https://doi.org/10.1177/00220426211002125

 

 

 

 

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.