Cannabis Use + Mental Health: Preventing Escalation of Use


18- to 24-year-olds reported the highest rate of anxiety or depression of any age group during the pandemic. Studies showed 25% of young adults increased their substance use to cope during the pandemic1. In Maine, 34% of young adults reported using cannabis in the past month2, and 1 in 10 Mainers showed signs of cannabis dependence. The State of Maine Office of Cannabis Policy worked with Rescue Agency to develop a new library of ads to prevent the escalation of cannabis use among young adults.

In audience research, many young adults didn’t believe the risks associated with using cannabis applied to them, explaining that the relief cannabis brought was greater than any potential negative effects. They also reported confusion over “how much was too much,” so it was important to clarify what overuse looked like in everyday life. Our new ad “Stress Loop” explains the science behind how using cannabis to cope can further damage their mental health because it stops them from addressing the underlying cause of anxiety and stress.

While many young adults may feel like cannabis use is necessary to get through the day, “Stress Loop” shows that the cyclical nature of cannabis dependence can lead to a downward spiral and potentially escalate to cannabis use disorder. The messaging also provides alternative ways to manage their stress and anxiety and directs them to the campaign website to learn more.

Stress Loop” is part of Maine’s Let Talk Cannabis campaign designed to educate Mainers about the risks of cannabis use among priority populations, like young adults using to cope. We’ve implemented Let’s Talk Cannabis in several states nationwide to educate audiences about new cannabis laws and the health risks of non-medical use. Read more about the initial results of our Let’s Talk Cannabis campaigns in California, Vermont, and Illinois. If you’d like to discuss implementing a cannabis education campaign in your community, please contact our team today.

1Mental Health, Substance Use, and Suicidal Ideation During the COVID-19 Pandemic — United States, June 24–30, 2020
2Youth Drug Use Across America, US Drug Test Centers


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