Explain and Ask Client To Complete Marijuana Problem Scale; Evaluate Consequences of Marijuana Use

The Marijuana Problem Scale (MPS) (form AS5), developed by Stephens and colleagues (1994a), is a self-report assessment that helps the client identify areas in his or her life affected by marijuana use. It contains 19 items that represent potential negative effects of marijuana on social relationships, self-esteem, motivation and productivity, work and finances, physical health, memory impairment, and legal problems. The items were chosen based on existing self-report drug abuse severity measures and on data from people who sought treatment for marijuana use.

Some questions on the MPS are similar to those in the SCID-IV. However, the MPS is a self-report instrument and the counselor should not base diagnostic decisions on the MPS alone. Clinical judgment is needed to make a diagnosis of cannabis abuse.

The counselor gives the form to the client and instructs the client to take a few moments to respond to each item by indicating whether he or she experienced a particular problem related to marijuana use in the past month. After reading each question, the client circles the corresponding number on the questionnaire:

Not a problem (0) A minor problem (1) A serious problem (2).

After answering all the questions, the client gives the form back to the counselor who counts the number of items identified as either minor or serious problems. Higher scores generally indicate more serious problems with marijuana. However, it is important to review the specific problem items with clients because the nature of the problems reported may be more important than the total score. For instance, although nearly all people who use marijuana and seek treatment report feeling bad about their use, a smaller number will indicate serious problems with friends, family, work, or finances. Exhibit VII-1 in section VII presents the frequency of problems reported by MTP participants.

The counselor keeps the form and uses the information to complete the client’s PFR, which is discussed in the next session.