Electronic Theses and Dissertations





Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy




Clinical Psychology

Committee Chair

James G Murphy

Committee Member

Frank Andrasik

Committee Member

Meghan McDevitt-Murphy

Committee Member

Melloni Cook


Heavy drinking and drug use among college students has become a major public health concern. Approximately 45% of college students engage in heavy episodic drinking and 28% of young adults report concurrent alcohol and illegal drug use. This pattern of substance use increases risk for experiencing a variety of substance-related consequences. Brief motivational interventions (BMIs) have been found to be effective in reducing alcohol consumption among college students, yet they yield relatively small effect sizes (d = .11-.4). Only about two thirds of students show a treatment response with 5-29% continuing to drink at risky levels. Hence, there is a need to enhance the efficacy of BMI’s for alcohol and drug use. Based on research indicating that low-level of substance-free reinforcement is a risk factor for poor BMI response, a recent pilot study demonstrated that one effective way of enhancing the efficacy of BMI’s is the introduction of a supplemental session that directly targets the behavioral economic mechanisms of substance-free reinforcement and delayed reward discounting (Substance Free Activity Session: SFAS). The purpose of the current study was to conduct a randomized controlled trial intended to replicate and extend the aforementioned study by adapting the typical motivational interviewing and substance-free activity sessions to address the risk factors of an ethnically diverse college sample and by focusing on both drug and alcohol misuse. In addition to encouraging engagement in constructive alternatives to substance-use and reducing delayed reward discounting, the sessions addressed variables that might confer unique risk for substance misuse among minority students, such as racism. Participants were 97 college students (58.8% women; 59.8% white/Caucasian; M age = 20.01, SD = 2.23) who reported at least one heavy drinking episode in the past month. After completing a baseline assessment and an individual alcohol-focused BMI, participants were randomized to either the SFAS session or an education control session. A series of mixed model analyses revealed that participants in the BMI + SFAS group reported less overall substance use and fewer days using marijuana at the 6 month follow-up. These results suggest that traditional alcohol and drug BMI’s can be enhanced by the addition of a session that focuses on increasing alternatives to substance use.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to the local University of Memphis Electronic Theses & dissertation (ETD) Repository.