Change in delay discounting and substance reward value following a brief alcohol and drug use intervention


The present study examined (1) the impact of a brief substance use intervention on delay discounting and indices of substance reward value (RV), and (2) whether baseline values and posttreatment change in these behavioral economic variables predict substance use outcomes. Participants were 97 heavy drinking college students (58.8% female, 41.2% male) who completed a brief motivational intervention (BMI) and then were randomized to one of two conditions: a supplemental behavioral economic intervention that attempted to increase engagement in substance-free activities associated with delayed rewards (SFAS) or an Education control (EDU). Demand intensity, and Omax, decreased and elasticity significantly increased after treatment, but there was no effect for condition. Both baseline values and change in RV, but not discounting, predicted substance use outcomes at 6-month follow-up. Students with high RV who used marijuana were more likely to reduce their use after the SFAS intervention. These results suggest that brief interventions may reduce substance reward value, and that changes in reward value are associated with subsequent drinking and drug use reductions. High RV marijuana users may benefit from intervention elements that enhance future time orientation and substance-free activity participation.

Publication Title

Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior