Sarah graduated from Acadia University (Wolfville, NS) in 2020 with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology (Honours). During her undergraduate degree, she studied terror management theory and motivational conflict. Recently, Sarah completed her Master of Science degree in Psychiatry Research under the supervision of Dr. Sherry Stewart at Dalhousie University in Halifax, NS. In the past year at Dalhousie with the Mood, Anxiety, and Addiction Comorbidity lab, she has studied the impact of sex and personality on COVID-19 related outcomes. As she begins her transition into the PhD in Psychiatry Research program, Sarah will shift her focus to studying the automatic cognitive mechanisms which underlie cannabis use among trauma-exposed individuals. She intends to study how extant variables, such as chronic pain and addiction severity, may influence the ways in which cannabis is used by the individual to cope with the lasting effects of their traumatic experiences.
Exploring Associative Memory Mechanisms in Cannabis Users with Trauma Histories: Relevance to Understanding Post Traumatic Stress Disorder-Cannabis Use Disorder Comorbidity
Increasingly, medicinal Cannabis is being prescribed to help Veterans manage their Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms and chronic pain. Additionally, the recent Cannabis legalization in Canada has made Cannabis highly accessible to Veterans without a prescription. However, the use of Cannabis as a medication in Veterans is highly controversial, and it is unclear which ailments are the primary motivators for Cannabis use. This study will examine the relationship between Cannabis use, PTSD, and chronic pain.
This study will aim to examine automatic cognitive processes which may arise without awareness and trigger Cannabis use in regular Cannabis users with trauma histories after exposure to a trauma cue, as well as the motivations behind Cannabis use in a trauma-exposed population. This study will aim to answer:
1. Is chronic pain a motive for Cannabis use in a population with PTSD symptoms?
2. Does trauma cue exposure trigger an automatic approach?
The findings of this project will provide crucial information for healthcare professionals working with Veterans, and Veterans themselves, about the safety of using Cannabis for PTSD and chronic pain management.