Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Psychology


Clinical Psychology

Content Description

1 online resource (vi, 93 pages)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Mitch Earleywine

Committee Members

James F Boswell, Julia M Hormes


cannabis, harm reduction, marijuana, protective behavioral strategies, savoring, Cannabis, Marijuana abuse, Behavior modification, College students

Subject Categories

Clinical Psychology


Protective behavioral strategies (PBS) aim to mitigate harms related to substance use. Many individuals use cannabis for relief, but little work has focused on strategies to enhance therapeutic benefit safely. The present paper includes two studies that test a novel theoretical model positing enhancement of subjective effects as a protective strategy against cannabis-related harms. Enhancement was operationalized as savoring, a facet of mindfulness, as a potential PBS to mitigate cannabis-related negative consequences and alter subjective effects associated with use. Study I was a cross sectional survey examining relations of savoring, PBS, and cannabis use outcomes as well as the feasibility and acceptability of a hypothetical savoring intervention among adults using cannabis (N = 557, Mage = 36.9, 50.1% Male, 73% White). Study II was a pilot study where cannabis-using undergraduates were randomized into a week-long savoring intervention (n = 15) or mind-wandering control group (n = 11) and reported on acceptability and feasibility, and cannabis and affect-related outcomes (N = 26, Mage = 18, 34.6% Male, 42% White). Study I failed to find relations between savoring and PBS, but individuals who savored reported fewer problems, less use, and less intoxication. Participants also reported that a hypothetical savoring intervention appeared feasible and helpful. Study II found that one week later, the savoring condition prompted moderate to large effects in increased happiness, fewer episodes of cannabis use, smaller amounts of cannabis consumed, less intoxication, and increased negative expectancies of cannabis effects, compared to baseline. Both studies suggest that savoring can reduce use and be protective for those who use cannabis. Further work to examine the efficacy of savoring as an intervention for substance use is warranted.