Abstinence or moderation? Choice by alcoholics

George Bigelow, Miriam Cohen, Ira Liebson, Louis A. Faillace

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Volunteer chronic alcoholics were given access to substantial quantities of alcohol in situations in which a behavioral contingency was attached to non-excessive drinking. If subjects either abstained or drank moderately they earned the opportunity to participate in an 'enriched' ward environment-with greater social and recreational opportunities. Subjects overwhelmingly chose to drink moderately. The results indicate that alcoholics can stop drinking after having begun, and thus support the hope that a technology may be developed for teaching moderation as a treatment goal. The results also suggest that for alcoholics, moderate drinking is more reinforcing than abstinence. The possibility that the opportunity to drink moderately can be used as a reinforcer in treatment programs is discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)209-214
Number of pages6
JournalBehaviour Research and Therapy
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 1972

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'Abstinence or moderation? Choice by alcoholics'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this