Revealing the Meaning of Cannabis Use as an Occupation: A Scoping Review

Subst Abuse. 2023 Jan 18;17:11782218221150113. doi: 10.1177/11782218221150113. eCollection 2023.


BACKGROUND: Occupational science and occupational therapy typically perceive occupations as promoting health and well-being. However, this perspective overlooks the many occupations that are viewed as illegal, unhealthy, or risky, such as drug use. Due to its negative association with health, drug use is perceived as not holding significance or meaning in people’s lives.

OBJECTIVE: This study explores how individuals perceive and describe the meaning of their cannabis use in the context of their lives, from an occupational perspective.

METHODS: A scoping review was conducted using Levac et al.’ modifications to Arksey and O’Malley’s framework. To examine the peer-reviewed literature, 7 databases were searched using terms related to cannabis and meaning. Descriptive statistics were used to describe the selected studies, and reflexive thematic analysis identified cross-study themes.

RESULTS: Fourteen studies were selected. Most studies have been published since 2008, with 5 published in the last 2 years. Four themes were identified across the studies: (a) preserving life; (b) navigating the routines of everyday life; (c) understanding the self, identity, and belonging; and (d) expanding the view of the world.

CONCLUSIONS: Cannabis use was revealed in this study as a support for navigating occupational routines and enhancing occupational repertoires and engagement, feelings of belonging, and collective user identities. As such, substance abuse treatment practices, including those provided by occupational therapists, should recognize the potential significance of cannabis use within people’s lives. Using a harm reduction approach, occupational therapists can acknowledge the ways in which clients use cannabis to manage their daily routines, while also focusing on supporting clients to reduce the ill-effects of cannabis. As individuals become more engaged in occupations that are significant in their lives, their need for and meaning of cannabis use may change leading to a possible reduction in its use and a shift in their identity construction.

PMID:36685720 | PMC:PMC9853873 | DOI:10.1177/11782218221150113

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