- The role of leisure and delinquency in frequent cannabis use and dependence trajectories among young adults
- International Journal of Drug Policy
- Volume | Issue number
- 26 | 2
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Law (FdR)
Faculty of Medicine (AMC-UvA)
- Bonger Institute of Criminology (ARILS)
The link between leisure and cannabis use has been widely studied, but less so for young adults, and rarely with a focus on frequent cannabis use. Also, little is known about how changes in leisure develop over time and how they are related to transitions in cannabis use and dependence.
As part of a 3-year longitudinal project, in a qualitative study 47 frequent male and female young adult cannabis users with (n = 23) and without (n = 24) dependence at baseline were interviewed in-depth after 1.5 and 3 years.
Frequent cannabis users (at baseline ≥3 days per week in the past 12 months) are involved in similar leisure activities as the general young adult population and live rather conventional lives, generally away from a delinquent subculture. They mostly regulate their cannabis use to leisure time, to enhance other leisure activities, including socialising and video gaming. While they often give precedence to responsibilities (e.g. work and study), dependent and non-dependent users differed in whether they actively adapted their leisure activities to their cannabis use, or their cannabis use to their leisure time. Both types of and time spent on leisure activities were associated with transitions in use and dependence.
While our findings generally support the normalisation thesis, it is questionable whether frequent but non-problematic cannabis use is socially accepted in wider society. This study also questions the diagnostic dependence vs. non-dependence dichotomy, and adds finer distinctions to the concept of cannabis dependence. Implications for prevention and treatment include facilitating structured spending of leisure time (e.g. sports), and targeting frequent users who spent much leisure time video gaming at home.
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