Cannabis use breaks in young adults: The highs and lows of tolerance breaks

Emily B. Ansell, Margaret F. Bedillion, Shayna R. Farris, Jack M. Gilbert, Mackensie M. Koch, Sydney E. Thureen

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1 Scopus citations


Background/purpose: Cannabis tolerance breaks, or T-breaks, are believed to benefit persons who use cannabis (PUCs) by decreasing tolerance levels to cannabis. However, no prior research, to our knowledge, has compared the effects of T-breaks and other use breaks on cannabis use patterns and outcomes. The current study examined whether the occurrence of cannabis use breaks (tolerance and other use breaks), or the duration of these breaks, is associated with changes in hazardous cannabis use (CUDIT-R), CUD severity, cannabis use frequency, and withdrawal symptoms over a 6-month follow-up. Methods: Young adults, who recreationally use cannabis, (N=170, 55.9% female, Mean age=21 yo) completed baseline and on-time 6-month assessments of hazardous cannabis use (CUDIT-R), CUD severity, cannabis use frequency, and withdrawal symptoms. The occurrence of cannabis use breaks and the duration of these breaks during the intervening period was assessed at 6 months. Results: Taking a T-break was associated with an increase in hazardous cannabis use and CUD severity at 6 months. When considering cannabis use breaks for other reasons, a longer break was associated with a significant decrease in hazardous cannabis use (CUDIT-R), CUD severity, and cannabis use frequency at 6 months. Conclusion: Findings from our study suggest recreational PUCs who take a T-break may be at greater risk for problematic cannabis use. In addition, taking a longer cannabis use break for other reasons may have beneficial effects on cannabis-related outcomes. The ability to abstain from cannabis for other reasons may be protective while individuals who take T-breaks may be important targets for intervention and prevention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number109951
JournalDrug and alcohol dependence
StatePublished - Aug 1 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)

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