Motivational and control mechanisms underlying adolescent cannabis use disorders: A prospective study

Janna Cousijn, Patty van Benthem, Evelien van der Schee, Renske Spijkerman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Cannabis use disorders (CUDs) are the most prevalent substance use disorders among adolescents in treatment. Yet, little is known about the neuropsychological mechanisms underlying adolescent CUDs. Studies in adult cannabis users suggest a significant role for cognitive control and cannabis-oriented motivational processes, such as attentional bias, approach bias, and craving in CUDs. The current 6-month prospective study investigated the relationships between attentional bias, approach bias, craving, cognitive control, and cannabis use in adolescent patients in treatment for a primary or secondary CUD. Moreover, we investigated if these motivational processes and cognitive control could predict treatment progression after 6 months. Adolescents with a CUD had an attentional but no approach bias towards cannabis. In contrast to adult findings on the role of attentional bias, approach bias and cognitive control, only cannabis craving significantly correlated with current cannabis use and predicted cannabis use-related problems and abstinence from cannabis 6 months later. These findings identify craving as a predictor of treatment outcome, thereby supporting an important role for craving in the course of adolescent cannabis use and dependence. This prospective study is among the first to investigate neuropsychological mechanisms underlying adolescent CUDs, warranting future longitudinal studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)36-45
Number of pages10
JournalDevelopmental Cognitive Neuroscience
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2015
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.. All rights reserved.


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