, Volume 217, Issue 2, pp 177–187 | Cite as

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

  • Warren K. BickelEmail author
  • Reid D. Landes
  • Darren R. Christensen
  • Lisa Jackson
  • Bryan A. Jones
  • Zeb Kurth-Nelson
  • A. David Redish
Original Investigation



Intertemporal choice has provided important insights into understanding addiction, predicted drug-dependence 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.


In this study, we examine the interaction between intertemporal choice and commodity type in the decision-making process of cocaine-dependent individuals.


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).


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.


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.


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



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.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Warren K. Bickel
    • 1
    Email author
  • Reid D. Landes
    • 3
  • Darren R. Christensen
    • 4
  • Lisa Jackson
    • 2
  • Bryan A. Jones
    • 2
  • Zeb Kurth-Nelson
    • 5
  • A. David Redish
    • 5
  1. 1.Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute and Department of Psychology Virginia TechRoanokeUSA
  2. 2.Department of Psychiatry, Center for Addiction ResearchUniversity of Arkansas for Medical SciencesLittle RockUSA
  3. 3.Department of BiostatisticsUniversity of Arkansas for Medical SciencesLittle RockUSA
  4. 4.Problem Gambling Research and Treatment CentreUniversity of MelbourneMelbourneAustralia
  5. 5.Department of NeuroscienceUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA

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