Using cannabis to help you sleep: Heightened frequency of medical cannabis use among those with PTSD

Marcel O. Bonn-Miller, Kimberly A. Babson, Ryan Vandrey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The use of cannabis for medical purposes is proliferating in the U.S., and PTSD is an explicitly approved condition for accessing medical cannabis in 5 states. Prior research suggests that people with PTSD often use cannabis to help cope with their condition, and that doing so results in more frequent and problematic cannabis use patterns. Specific coping motivations, such as sleep improvement, among medical cannabis users, have not been examined. Methods: The present study evaluated specific coping use motivations, frequency of cannabis and alcohol use, and mental health among a convenience sample of patients (N= 170) at a medical cannabis dispensary in California. Results: Those with high PTSD scores were more likely to use cannabis to improve sleep, and for coping reasons more generally, compared with those with low PTSD scores. Cannabis use frequency was greater among those with high PTSD scores who used for sleep promoting purposes compared with those with low PTSD scores or those who did not use for sleep promoting purposes. Conclusions: Consistent with prior research, this study found increased rates of coping-oriented use of cannabis and greater frequency of cannabis use among medical users with high PTSD scores compared with low PTSD scores. In addition, sleep improvement appears to be a primary motivator for coping-oriented use. Additional research is needed to examine the health consequences of this pattern of cannabis use and whether alternative sleep promoting interventions (e.g. CBT-I) could reduce the reliance on cannabis for adequate sleep among those with PTSD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)162-165
Number of pages4
JournalDrug and alcohol dependence
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2014


  • Cannabis
  • Coping
  • Medical marijuana
  • PTSD
  • Sleep

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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