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Addict Behav. 2003 Aug;28(6):1167-73.

Delay discounting is associated with substance use in college students.

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  • 1Duke Child and Family Study Center, Duke University School of Medicine, 718 Rutherford Street, Durham, NC 27705, USA.


This study investigated whether a measure of delay discounting was associated with substance use variables in a sample of college students. Participants (N=47) completed a substance use survey and a delay-discounting measure that asked them to make a series of choices between a fixed amount of hypothetical money to be delivered immediately and a larger amount to be delivered after a range of delays. Discounting values were significantly associated with a number of substance use variables, most notably age of first alcohol use (r=-.34; P<.05), age of first smoking (r=-.51; P<.05), age of first marijuana use (r=-.48; P<.05), number of times "passed out" from alcohol use (r=.73; P<.01), and total number of illicit drugs used (r=.32; P<.05). Individuals reporting more illicit drug use and younger ages of first use tend to discount the value of future hypothetical rewards more steeply than their peers.

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