Choice, Behavioural Economics and Addiction is about the theory, data, and applied implications of choice-based models of substance use and addiction. The distinction between substance use and addiction is important, because many individuals use substances but are not also addicted to them. The behavioural economic perspective has made contributions to the analysis of both of these phenomena and, while the major focus of the book is on theories of addiction, it is necessary also to consider the behavioural economic account of substance use in order to place the theories in their proper context and provide full coverage of the contribution of behavioural economics to this field of study. The book discusses the four major theories of addiction that have been developed in the area of economic science/behavioural economics. They are: hyperbolic discounting melioration relative addiction rational addiction The main objective of the book is to popularise these ideas among addiction researchers, academics and practitioners. The specific aims are to articulate the shared and distinctive elements of these four theories, to present and discuss the latest empirical work on substance abuse and addiction that is being conducted in this area, and to articulate a range of applied implications of this body of work for clinical, public health and public policy initiatives. The book is based on an invitation-only conference entitled, Choice, Behavioural Economics and Addiction: Theory, Evidence and Applications held at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, March 30 - April 1, 2001. The conference was attended by prominent scientists and scholars, representing a range of disciplines concerned with theories of addiction and their consequences for policy and practice. The papers in the book are based on the papers given at the above conference, together with commentarie


For specialist workers in the addictions field including clinical psychologists, psychiatrists, sociologists and economists.

Table of Contents

Introduction: overview of behavioral economic perspectives on substance use and addiction (R.E. Vuchinich, N. Heather). Views from Four Theories of Addiction. Hyperbolic discounting as a factor in addiction: a critical analysis (G. Ainslie, J. Monterosso). Comments on Ainslie & Monterosso (W.R. Miller). Reply to Miller (G. Ainslie, J. Monterosso). Evolving models of addictive behavior: from neoclassical to behavioral economics (F.J. Chaloupka et al.). Comments on Chaloupka, Emery & Liang (R. MacCoun). Consumption dependent changes in reward value: a framework for understanding addiction (G.M. Heyman). Comments on Heyman (S.H. Mitchell). Economic concepts in the behavioural study of addiction (H. Rachlin). Comments on Rachlin (R.E. Vuchinich). Other Perspectives on Addiction. Addiction: definitions and mechanisms (O-J. Skog). Comments on Skog (N. Heather). Reply to Heather (O-J. Skog). Choosing delayed rewards: perspectives from learning theory, neurochemistry, and neuroanatomy (R.N. Cardinal et al.). Comments on Cardinal et al. (W.K. Bickel). Reply to Bickel (R.N. Cardinal et al.). Reason and addiction (O. Gjelsvik). Comments on Gjelsvik (G. Ainslie). Reply to Ainslie (O. Gjelsvik). Junk time: pathological behaviour as the interaction of evolutionary and cultural forces (W.K. Bickel, M.W. Johnson). Comments on Bickel and Johnson (K. Humphreys). Reply to Humphreys (W.K. Bickel, M.W. Johnson). Empirical Studies of Addiction. Rational addiction and injection of heroin (A.L. Bretteville-Jensen). Comments on Bretteville-Jensen (M.A. Morrisey). Reply to Morrisey (A.L. Bretteville-Jensen). Social interaction and drug use: Rachlin vs. Schelling (H.O. Melberg). Comments on Melberg (H. Rachlin). Reply to Rachlin (H.O. Melberg). Discounting the value of commodities according to different types of cost (S.H. Mitchell). Comments on Mitchell (G.M. Heyman).


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© 2003
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About the authors

Nick Heather

Affiliations and Expertise

Emeritus Professor of Alcohol and Other Drug Stud

Rudy E. Vuchinich

Affiliations and Expertise

University of Alabama at Birmingham


"I highly recommend this ground-breaking book on the behavioural economics of choice applied to the analysis of addictive behaviour. The material presented in this exciting work represents a cutting-edge integration of basic behavioural science and economic theory by the leading experts and proponents of behavioural choice theories. What is revolutionary about this approach is that it moves the addictions field from its traditional preoccupation with internal biological/genetic determinants of addiction as a pathological disease to a new formulation that views addictive behaviour as a 'rational' choice? It is 'must reading' for students and professionals alike in the addictions field, including researchers and practitioners in the clinical, public health, and public policy areas. When it comes to making a decision about whether to read this book, in my view it is clearly a 'Win/Win' choice." G. Alan Marlatt, PhD. Director, Addictive Behaviors Research Center, Professor of Psychology, University of Washington, USA