Single- and cross-commodity discounting among cocaine addicts: The commodity and its temporal location determine discounting rate

Warren K. Bickel, Reid D. Landes, Darren R. Christensen, Lisa Jackson, Bryan A. Jones, Zeb Kurth-Nelson, A. David Redish

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    96 Scopus citations


    Rationale Intertemporal choice has provided important insights into understanding addiction, predicted drugdependence status, and outcomes of treatment interventions. However, such analyses have largely been based on the choice of a single commodity available either immediately or later (e.g., money now vs. money later). In real life, important choices for those with addiction depend on making decisions across commodities, such as between drug and non-drug reinforcers. To date, no published study has systematically evaluated intertemporal choice using all combinations of a drug and a non-drug commodity. Objectives In this study, we examine the interaction between intertemporal choice and commodity type in the decision-making process of cocaine-dependent individuals. Methods This study of 47 treatment-seeking cocaine addicts analyzes intertemporal choices of two commodities (equated amounts of cocaine and money), specifically between cocaine now vs. cocaine later (C-C), money now vs. money later (M-M), cocaine now vs. money later (C-M), and money now vs. cocaine later (M-C). Results Cocaine addicts discounted significantly more in the C-C condition than in M-M (P=0.032), consistent with previous reports. Importantly, the two cross-commodity discounting conditions produced different results. Discounting in C-M was intermediate to the C-C and M-M rates, while the greatest degree of discounting occurred in M-C. Conclusions These data indicate that the menu of commodities offered alter discounting rates in intertemporal choice and that the greatest rate is obtained when the drug is the later available commodity. Implications for understanding intertemporal choices and addiction are addressed.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)177-187
    Number of pages11
    Issue number2
    StatePublished - Sep 2011

    Bibliographical note

    Funding Information:
    Acknowledgments This work was funded by NIDA Grants R01 DA 12997, R01 DA 024080; R01 DA030241, Wilbur Mills Chair Endowment; and in part by the Arkansas Biosciences Institute/ Tobacco Settlement Proceeds Act of 2000. Computational work reported in this manuscript was funded by NIDA Grant DA 024080. This article was edited by the Office of Grants and Scientific Publications at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.


    • Addiction
    • Behavioral economics
    • Cocaine
    • Competing neurobehavioral decision systems theory
    • Cross-commodity discounting
    • Delay-discounting
    • Single-commodity discounting


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