Leveraging behavioral economics and reinforcement theory in treating heavy episodic drinking among college students
Heavy Episodic alcohol use and associated serious adverse impacts is a persistent and often tragic problem among emerging adults including college students that calls out for efficacious clinical interventions and innovative mitigation policies (e.g., Hingson et al., 2017; Hultgren et al., 2021).
While heavy alcohol use has multiple determinants, there is broad recognition that the relative reinforcing effects of alcohol acting at brain reward centers play an essential role in promoting and sustaining that behavior pattern (Martinez-Loredo et al., 2021; MacKillop, 2016).
Behavioral economics and reinforcement theory have much to offer in efforts to reduce substance use
I hope that additional programming around the importance of non-substance related activities on college campuses might also become part of primary prevention efforts on college campuses and related settings.
Combining Community Reinforcement Approach and contingency-management interventions can be especially effective in promoting initial and longer-term abstinence from drug use (e.g., De Crescenzo et al., 2018).
Also important to underscore is that greater involvement in non-substance related rewarding activities would likely benefit the many young adults not enrolled in college as well as adolescents and older adults who are at risk for substance use disorders.
Lastly, worth examining is whether increasing accessibility to non-substance related activities may help to mitigate the unsettling increases in prevalence of opioid and other substance use disorders in our rural communities along with increasing access to the efficacious reinforcement-based therapies mentioned above (e.g., Higgins et al., 2021).”Higgins, S.T. (2021), Leveraging behavioral economics and reinforcement theory in treating heavy episodic drinking among college students. Alcohol Clin Exp Res. Accepted Author Manuscript. https://doi.org/10.1111/acer.14758