Faculty Articles

Self-change: A pathway to cannabis abuse resolution.

Timothy P. Ellingstad
Linda Carter Sobell, Nova Southeastern University
Mark B. Sobell, Nova Southeastern University
Lori Eickleberry
Charles J. Golden


Long-term daily cannabis abusers (N = 25) who without treatment stopped using cannabis for at least one year were interviewed about their past substance use, antecedents to change, and factors supportive of change. Respondents' cannabis problems decreased in the year prior to their recovery compared to their lifetime use. Respondents described their successful quit attempts through structured interviews and autobiographical narratives. The narratives were content analyzed for factors related to recovery. The reports indicated that marijuana cessation was motivated more by internal than external factors, and the most common precipitants of quit attempts were cognitive anti-cannabis factors. The major reason reported by respondents for stopping cannabis was a change in how they viewed their cannabis use, followed by negative personal effects. The most common reported maintenance factors were avoidance of situations in which cannabis was used, changes in lifestyle, and the development of non-cannabis-related interests. Cognitive and respiratory functioning were also assessed. Lastly, more than 75% of respondents reported not seeking treatment because they believed it was not needed or because they wanted to quit on their own. Directions for future research are offered.