Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


41st Annual Convention; San Antonio, TX; 2015

Event Details

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B. F. Skinner Lecture Series Paper Session #339
CE Offered: PSY/BACB

Questioning Some Assumptions About the Processes Involved in Addiction

Monday, May 25, 2015
11:00 AM–11:50 AM
006AB (CC)
Area: BPH; Domain: Basic Research
Instruction Level: Intermediate
CE Instructor: Paul L. Soto, Ph.D.
Chair: Paul L. Soto (Texas Tech University)
RICHARD LAMB (University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio)
Dr. Richard Lamb received his undergraduate degree from the University of Chicago in biology. He did his doctoral work with Don McMillan at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in pharmacology. Dr. Lamb then moved to Baltimore, where he did a postdoctoral fellowship with Roland Griffiths at Johns Hopkins University in the Division of Behavioral Biology. He went on to be a staff fellow working with Jack Henningfield in the clinical pharmacology branch of the National Institute on Drug Abuse intramural research program and with Steve Goldberg in the preclinical pharmacology branch. From there he went to the Philadelphia area: First as an assistant professor at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and then as an associate professor at Hahnemann University. While at these institutions, Dr. Lamb worked with Martin Iguchi, Kim Kirby, Toby Jarbe, and Andrew Morral doing both treatment studies and preclinical studies related to drug addiction. Dr. Lamb is currently a professor of psychiatry and pharmacology at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio conducting preclinical studies examining the effects of potential medications on alcohol self-administration and animal models of alcoholism.

Addiction is characterized by continued drug use despite its adverse consequences, and by its chronic relapsing nature. Frequently, this continued use is assumed to result from drugs being over-valued, i.e., drug use being less elastic. In other words, in those who are addicted, increases in price decrease drug use less compared to those who are not addicted. Similarly, relapse is frequently assumed to be precipitated by drug-paired stimuli that, through pavlovian conditioning, elicit increases in motivation to take drugs. While these assumptions may be true, other equally viable alternatives exist. For instance, excessive drug use may result from the unconstrained demand for drug being relatively high, i.e. greater amounts of drug being consumed when it is available at no cost, in those who are addicted. Similarly, drug-paired stimuli may precipitate relapse not because these elicit increased motivation for drug taking, but because these stimuli elicit other behaviors that make drug taking more likely or set the occasion for behaviors that result in drug taking. Surprisingly, the empirical base for deciding among these assumptions is extremely limited, especially given how these assumptions shape our investigations into and our treatment of addiction.

Target Audience:

Basic and applied behavior analysts interested in drug addiction.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of presentation, participants should be able to: (1) define elastic versus inelastic demand; (2) distinguish between conceptions of drug addiction as resulting from drugs being over-valued in those who are or become addicted compared to those who are not addicted versus a greater unconstrained demand for drugs in those who are or become addicted compared to those who are not addicted; and (3) distinguish the various functions of drug-paired stimuli that may contribute to increased drug use.
Keyword(s): demand, drug addiction, relapse



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