A quantitative signature of self-control repair: Rate-dependent effects of successful addiction treatment

Warren K. Bickel, Reid D. Landes, Zeb Kurth-Nelson, A. David Redish

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Excessive temporal discounting undergirds addiction, and the quantitative relationships of changes in discounting have yet to be investigated. The quantitative relationship between pre- and posttreatment discount rates was examined using data from five of our studies with diverse interventions across different groups of substance users. Discounting and treatment-outcome drug-use data from 222 drug-dependent individuals were analyzed. The primary measures were discounting of delayed reinforcers and objective measures of drug use. Results revealed that change in discounting was inversely related to baseline rates of discounting, such that participants with low discount rates showed little change in discounting with treatment, whereas participants with high discount rates showed large reductions in discounting. As importantly, those treatments that produced the largest gains in drug abstinence had the largest effects on discount rates. Temporal discounting changes with the specific quantitative signature of rate dependence, and more efficacious treatments remediate high discounting rates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)685-695
Number of pages11
JournalClinical Psychological Science
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
W. K. Bickel is a principal owner of HealthSim, LLC, which specializes in the research and development of prevention and therapeutic-educational software, and several studies employed a product for which he has a proprietary interest. However, no financial support resulted from this involvement for this study. The other authors have no financial interests to disclose.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2014.


  • Addiction
  • Biomarker
  • Neurobehavioral
  • Rate dependent
  • Self-control
  • Temporal discounting


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