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A web-based episodic specificity and future thinking session modulates delay discounting in cannabis users

Sep 27, 2022

Sofis, M. J., Lemley, S. M., Lee, D. C., & Budney, A. J. (2020). A web-based episodic specificity and future thinking session modulates delay discounting in cannabis users. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 34(4), 532–540. https://doi.org/10.1037/adb0000557

Episodic future thinking (EFT), a brief intervention involving mental simulation of positive future events, improves delay discounting (DD) in nicotine and alcohol dependent individuals. This study is the first to assess effects of a single-session, online episodic training (ET) on constructs that might impact cannabis use and cannabis use disorder. A sample of 200 active cannabis users recruited via Amazon Mechanical Turk were randomized to an EFT group (n = 102) or an episodic recent thinking control group (ERT; n = 98). A novel episodic specificity induction (ES) was included to enhance quality of episodic thinking for the ET group, and an ES attention control was provided to the ERT group (control training group; CT). Quality and manipulation ratings of event excitement, vividness, importance, and enjoyment of trainings were collected in addition to DD tasks (gains and losses) and readiness to change cannabis use. The ET group reported higher overall quality and manipulation ratings than did the CT group (p< .001, d = 0.79). DD of gains was lower in the ET relative to those of the CT group after controlling for relevant variables (p = .003, d = 0.48), unlike DD of losses (p = .50, d = 0.11). The ET group showed larger pre/post increases in readiness to change, but they were not statistically significant (p = .069, d = 0.26). These effects, following a session of online ET, suggests that ET may positively impact factors related to reduction in cannabis use. Differential effects of EFT and ES components on DD and the development of ET as an adjunctive mHealth intervention targeting reduction in cannabis use appears warranted. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved)



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