EXAMINING ASSOCIATIONS BETWEEN YOUNG ADULT ANXIETY, DEPRESSION, AND WILLINGNESS TO ENGAGE IN ALCOHOL, MARIJUANA, AND SIMULTANEOUS ALCOHOL AND MARIJUANA USE
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Purpose: Research indicates that young adults use alcohol and marijuana independently, or simultaneously (SAM; alcohol and marijuana use at the same time so that effects overlap) to cope with emotional distress (i.e., anxiety, depression). Given that behavioral willingness (i.e., openness) can be viewed as a predisposition to behavior, understanding mental health-related factors associated with willingness to engage in different types of substance use (i.e., alcohol, marijuana, SAM) may aid in identifying young adults at risk for harmful substance use. Methods: Participants ages 18-25 (N=363;60.1% female) completed baseline of a larger ecological momentary assessment study. Linear regression analyses controlling for age, gender, and past-month substance use examined associations between depressive and anxious distress and a willingness to engage in alcohol, marijuana, and SAM use. Results: Reports of higher depressive symptoms were associated with more willingness to use alcohol (B= 0.21, t = 2.85, p < .01) and engage in SAM use (B= 0.13, t = 2.25, p < .05). Anxious symptomology was associated with less willingness to use alcohol (B= -0.22, t = -2.99, p < .01), and more willingness to use marijuana (B= 0.15, t = 1.99, p < .05). Conclusions: Findings suggest that depressive and anxious distress are differentially associated with a willingness to engage in different types of substance use, depending on whether alcohol and marijuana are used independently or simultaneously. Therefore, targeted intervention strategies for young adults with depressive or anxious symptoms through early identification of willingness cognitions could prevent harmful substance use.