Few studies have investigated the association between the social context of cannabis use and cannabis use disorder (CUD). This longitudinal study of college students aimed to: develop a social context measure of cannabis use; examine the degree to which social context is associated with the transition from non-problematic cannabis use to CUD; and, examine the association between social context of cannabis use and depressive symptoms. The analytic sample consisted of 322 past-year cannabis users at baseline. Four distinct and internally consistent social context scales were found (i.e., social facilitation, emotional pain, sex seeking, and peer acceptance). Persistent CUD (meeting DSM-IV criteria for CUD at baseline and 12 months later) was associated with using cannabis in social facilitation or emotional pain contexts, controlling for frequency of cannabis use and alcohol use quantity. Students with higher levels of depressive symptoms were more likely to use cannabis in an emotional pain or sex-seeking context. These findings highlight the importance of examining the social contextual factors relating to substance use among college students. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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