Addiction may be viewed as choice governed by competing contingencies. One factor impacting choice, particularly as it relates to addiction, is sensitivity to delayed rewards. Discounting of delayed rewards influences addiction vulnerability because of competition between relatively immediate gains of drug use, e.g. intoxication, versus relatively remote gains of abstinence, e.g. family stability. Factors modifying delay sensitivity can be modeled in the laboratory. For instance, increased delay sensitivity can be similarly observed in adolescent humans and non-human animals. Similarly, genetic factors influence delay sensitivity in humans and animals. Recovery from addiction may also be viewed as choice behavior. Thus, reinforcing alternative behavior facilitates recovery because reinforcing alternative behavior decreases the frequency of using drugs. How reinforcing alternative behavior influences recovery can also be modeled in the laboratory. For instance, relapse risk decreases as abstinence duration increases, and this decreasing risk can be modeled in animals using choice procedures. In summary, addiction in many respects can be conceptualized as a problem of choice. Animal models of choice disorders stand to increase our understanding of the core processes that establish and maintain addiction and serve as a proving ground for development of novel treatments.
- Delay discounting
- Differential reinforcement of alternative behavior
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Animal Science and Zoology
- Behavioral Neuroscience