Modeling drug consumption in the clinic using simulation procedures: demand for heroin and cigarettes in opioid-dependent outpatients

Exp Clin Psychopharmacol. 1999 Nov;7(4):412-26. doi: 10.1037//1064-1297.7.4.412.


Use of a time- and cost-efficient simulation procedure to assess reinforcement efficacy in humans was explored in the present study. Opioid-dependent outpatients completed questionnaires asking how many cigarettes or bags of heroin they would purchase across a range of prices. Reported consumption patterns conformed to a quantitative model that has been successful in accounting for data obtained in studies using real rather than hypothetical consequences, suggesting the self-report data may have been a valid proxy for observations of actual consumption patterns. Simulation procedures may thus be a useful supplement to traditional operant methods for the assessment of reinforcement efficacy in humans, particularly in situations where the use of operant methods is logistically difficult or ethically questionable. The relationship between behavioral-economic and traditional measures of reinforcement efficacy is also discussed.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Algorithms
  • Female
  • Heroin Dependence / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Models, Psychological
  • Outpatients
  • Reinforcement, Psychology
  • Smoking / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires