Identification and enhanced understanding of motives for drug abuse is critical for the development of effective prevention efforts, behavioral interventions, and pharmacotherapies (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2010a
). If it is assumed that the majority of substance use is intentional goal-directed behavior, understanding specific motivations that elicit use will improve understanding of drug abuse (Pomazal & Brown, 1977
). DiClemente (1999)
, a pioneer in motivation theory, defines motivation as the “causes, considerations, reasons, and intentions that move individuals to perform certain behaviors or set of behaviors” and from this perspective most human behavior can be viewed as motivated whether driven by unconscious motives, self-regulation, or contingencies. Therefore, it is generally understood that motivations to use drugs of abuse are related to the external environment, as well as internal emotions and cognitions. Additionally, motivations for drug use are thought to be related to the specific drug’s desired effects. Given the varying pharmacological effects across substances of abuse, motives for consumption likely differ. Rigg and Ibañez (2010)
found that the most common motives for non-medical prescription drug use among street-based, primarily poly-illicit, drug abusers were “to get high,” “to sleep,” and “for anxiety/stress.” A recent large web survey of full-time, undergraduate college students identified pain relief, getting high, and experimentation as the most common reasons for nonmedical use of prescription opioids (McCabe, et al., 2007
). In another study of college students, expanding experiential awareness (e.g., perceptual and cognitive enhancement) was endorsed more as a motive for marijuana compared to alcohol use (Simons, Correia, & Carey, 2000
). Among recent high school graduates, the most common motives for marijuana use were enjoyment, conformity, experimentation, social enhancement, and boredom (Lee, Neighbors, & Woods, 2007
). In a survey of Latino gay men, the most common reasons to use stimulants such as cocaine and methamphetamine (MA) were increased energy, sexual enhancement, social connection, coping with stress, and work productivity; users consumed cocaine more often for social connection compared to MA (Diaz, Heckert, & Sanchez 2005
). In a study conducted by our group investigating motives to use among alcohol and cocaine dependent individuals, cocaine was more frequently used than alcohol in response to temptations and urges (Waldrop, et al., 2007a
). Ecological momentary assessment (EMA), during which participants record activities and mood in real time, has allowed for a more finely detailed approach to study drug use (Shiffman, 2008
). In an EMA study of cocaine and heroin abusing outpatients on methadone maintenance, the use of cocaine was significantly associated with reports that they “saw the drug,” “were tempted to use out of the blue,” “wanted to see what would happen if I used,” or “were in a good mood” (Epstein et al., 2009). These varying reports demonstrate important differences in motivations to use; however, comparison of the results is difficult as a standard instrument was not used across studies.
The Inventory of Drinking Situations (Annis, 1982
) and the Inventory of Drug-Taking Situations (IDTS; Annis & Martin, 1985
) were developed to systematically assess external (e.g., being around others who are using substances) and internal (e.g., feeling depressed) stimuli that trigger or are strongly associated with drug use. The IDTS has been utilized to compare relapse risk between alcohol and heroin dependent individuals (Gaily & Bashir, 2004
), to examine the relationship between a history of abuse, sensitivity to daily stressors, and relapse in cocaine dependence (Waldrop, et al., 2007b
), and to explore gender differences in drinking (Lau-Barraco, Skewes, & Stasiewicz, 2009
). However, to date, responses to the IDTS have not been compared among individuals with other substance dependence diagnoses.
According to 2009 National Survey on Drug Abuse and Health (NSDUH; N=67,500), the most commonly reported illicit drugs consumed are marijuana (6.6%), opioid pain relievers (2.8%), and cocaine (1.7%) (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2010b
). Therefore, examining reasons for use of these substances is of particular relevance, and consequently, marijuana, prescription opioid, and cocaine dependent groups were selected to explore motivational differences in using the primary drug of interest. Based on the extant literature and previous research from our group, we hypothesized that motives to use would vary by substance dependent group with the marijuana dependent group using more to enhance enjoyment, the prescription opioid dependent group using more in response to pain and physical discomfort, and the cocaine dependent group using more in response to urges and temptations to use.