Past behavioral economic research has shown that addictive behavior is linked to problems with decision-making and reward-processing. Studies also show that the amount of resources (e.g., time, effort, money) one spends seeking drugs in the natural environment can provide a behavioral index of drug reinforcement value. CBAM Postdoctoral Fellow Dr. Matthew Worley, Executive Director Steven Shoptaw, and CBAM colleagues Drs. Warren Bickel and Walter Ling collaborated on a recent publication that examined these factors in adults who received treatment for prescription opioid addiction.

The study examined data from a multi-site trial of medication and counseling for prescription opioid dependence. The study found that patients who spent a greater total amount of money and a greater proportion of their own income on drugs prior to treatment were most likely to continue using opioids during treatment. This study extends prior research in addictive behavior, in showing for the first time that individual differences in “drug reinforcement value” may predict inability to abstain from prescription opioids during a treatment episode. CBAM investigators are currently seeking research funding to examine behavioral economic markers of decision-making more closely in prescription opioid users, particularly those with chronic pain.

To read the full publication, click here.


CBAM is a multidisciplinary center that seeks to advance the prevention and treatment of chronic illnesses, especially in communities with health disparities. As part of the UCLA Department of Family Medicine, CBAM works at the intersection of academia and community with a focus on treating addictions and preventing the spread of HIV.

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