Using behavioral theories of choice to predict drinking outcomes following a brief intervention


Behavioral theories of choice predict that substance use is partly a function of the relative value of drugs in relation to other available reinforcers. This study evaluated this hypothesis in the context of predicting drinking outcomes following an alcohol abuse intervention. Participants (N = 54, 69% female, 31% male) were college student heavy drinkers who completed a single-session motivational intervention. Students completed a baseline measure of substance-related and substance-free activity participation and enjoyment. Only women showed a significant reduction in drinking at the 6-month follow-up, and the ratio of substance-related to substance-free reinforcement accounted for unique variance in their drinking outcomes. Women who at baseline derived a smaller proportion of their total reinforcement from substance use showed lower levels of follow-up drinking, even after the authors controlled for baseline drinking level. Male and female participants who reduced their drinking showed increased proportional reinforcement from substance-free activities. Copyright 2005 by the American Psychological Association.

Publication Title

Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology