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UH Research Team Develops a Mobile Intervention to Curb Cannabis Use



For Immediate Release: June 12, 2024; Houston, Texas


For the first time ever, daily cannabis use is now outpacing daily drinking in the U.S., according to a new study in Addiction. In fact, approximately 17.7 million people reported daily or near-daily cannabis use in the recent study, compared to 14.7 million people who reported drinking alcohol at the same rate. 


Addressing the significant trends in cannabis use are University of Houston researchers with the RESTORE Lab. The RESTORE Lab has developed a mobile intervention which promises to curb cannabis use among African Americans. Leading this team is RESTORE Lab researcher, Dr. Lorra Garey. Funded by NIMHD and HEALTH-RCMI, Garey’s research initiative was awarded $50,000 for the Pilot Research Project entitled, "A Mobile Intervention for Cannabis-related Disparities Among Black Cannabis Users.”  

 

After the recent completion of the pilot project, Garey and her team are now assessing the findings compiled through this mobile intervention initiative. Through this effort, Garey’s team has successfully collaborated on a mobile app that targets cannabis use as a false safety behavior to mitigate stress, anxiety, and depression.   

 

“From baseline to the 6-week follow-up, we are seeing significant reduction in false safety behavior across all participants,” Garey said. “This is possibly because of the participants interested in quitting or reducing their cannabis use had some intrinsic motivation to make behavior changes consistent with living a healthier lifestyle.” 

  

During the project, researchers conducted six weeks of experimental app use, called the “intervention period.” Fifty participants completed daily, ecological momentary assessments three times a day. At the end of the 6-week intervention period, there was a follow-up assessment including a qualitative interview. 

 

“During this trial, some of the participants started to recognize their own level of anxiety and their own level of cannabis use,” Garey said. “They started to recognize the link between their anxiety, stress and use patterns. We try to help people move toward understanding this through the treatment videos we developed—and making these links to help them recognize these associations. It provides an opportunity for an ‘Aha!’ moment.” 

 

Garey’s hope is that the initiative will ultimately help provide African American cannabis users with an effective, culturally appropriate intervention.  

 

“What motivated this project is that there is lack of clinical services that are readily available for African American adults, and we want to fill that gap,” Garey said. “We want to do it in a way that is culturally sensitive and accessible and utilized by this population. I’m just really excited to take time to understand what worked and what didn't work from a qualitative and quantitative data perspective.” 

 

One of the most rewarding aspects of the pilot project was helping other early-stage investigators discover more about data gathering and analysis. 

 

“There were a lot of opportunities for junior researchers, grad students, undergraduates to learn about the research process,” Garey added. “That was exciting too, because we are helping to train the future generations of clinical scientists who will focus on culturally adaptive and sensitive interventions. The hope will be that with more in-depth analysis and pending promising findings, we would move to a larger ROI application where we could address some of the limitations of the trial.” 

 

Garey underscored how this experimental app has the potential to be a stand-alone method to help those who are interested in reducing or quitting cannabis in a culturally tailored way. 

 

“The intervention offers the real-world, day-to-day access to support,” Garey said. “It can help clinicians by alleviating some of the burden of time involvement and the resource involvement--offering everything that goes into helping folks quit and remain quit...or reduce if that is their goal. This gives them something to lean on.” 

Read more about Dr. Garey’s research initiative here. 

--Alison Medley 

If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Alison Medley at 713.320.0933 or email aemedle2@central.uh.edu 

 

 

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