Controlled Drinking

A Concept Coming of Age
  • Mark B. Sobell
  • Linda C. Sobell
Part of the Advances in the Study of Communication and Affect book series (ASCA, volume 7)


In terms of self-regulation of behavior, it can be argued that alcohol problems stand apart from other types of substance abuse. The differences derive not from scientific findings but from popular beliefs. Public attitudes generally view excessive eating, smoking, and use of drugs as largely under an individual’s control. Thus, it has been popularly assumed that people engage in these excessive behaviors by choice. Popular conceptions of alcohol problems, however, are somewhat more clouded. While there appears to be considerable ambiguity about the nature and treatment of alcohol problems among the general public, a majority of paraprofessionals and professionals in the alcohol field have long supported an ideology that views alcohol problems as largely beyond an individual’s control. This stance has greatly complicated research and treatment directed toward exploring the extent to which alcohol abusers can control their drinking.


Drinking Behavior Alcohol Problem Physical Dependence Blood Alcohol Level Alcoholic Anonymous 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Alcoholics Anonymous. New York: Works Publishing, 1939.Google Scholar
  2. Caddy, G. R., Addington, H. J., Jr., & Perkins, D. Individualized behavior therapy for alcoholics: A third year independent double-blind follow-up. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 1978, 16, 345–362.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Cohen, M., Liebson, I. A., Faillace, L. A., & Allen, R. P. Moderate drinking by chronic al coholics: A schedule-dependent phenomenon. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 1971, 153, 434–444.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Cohen, M., Liebson, I. A., Faillace, L. A., & Speers, W. Alcoholism: Controlled drinking and incentives for abstinence. Psychological Reports, 1971, 28, 575–580.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Engle, K. B., & Williams, T. K. Effect of an ounce of vodka on alcoholics’ desire for alcohol. Quarterly Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 1972, 33, 1099–1105.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Gross, M. M. (Ed.). Alcohol intoxication and withdrawal: Experimental studies. Advances in experimental medicine and biology, Vol. 35. New York: Plenum Press, 1973.Google Scholar
  7. Jellinek, E. M. The disease concept of alcoholism. New Brunswick, N.J.: Hillhouse Press, 1960.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Kuhn, T. S. The structure of scientific revolutions (2nd ed.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1970.Google Scholar
  9. Lovibond, S. H., & Caddy, G. Discriminated aversive control in the moderation of alcoholics’ drinking behavior. Behavior Therapy, 1970, 1, 437–444.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Maisto, S. A., & Adesso, V. J. The effect of instructions and feedback on blood alcohol level discrimination in nonalcoholic drinkers. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 1977, 45, 625–636.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Marlatt, G. A., Demming, B., & Reid, J. B. Loss of control drinking in alcoholics: An experimental analogue. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 1973, 81, 233–241.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Mendelson, J. H. (Ed.). Experimentally induced chronic intoxication and withdrawal in alcoholics. Quarterly Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 1964, Supplement No. 2.Google Scholar
  13. Mendelson, J. H., LaDou, J., & Solomon, P. Experimentally induced chronic intoxication and withdrawal in alcoholics, III: Psychiatric findings. Quarterly Journal of Studies on Alcohol. 1964, Supplement No. 2, 40–52.Google Scholar
  14. Merry, J. The “loss of control” myth. Lancet, 1966, 1, 1257–1258.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Nathan, P. E. Studies in blood alcohol level discrimination. In P. E. Nathan, G. A. Marlatt, & T. Løberg (Eds.), Alcoholism: New directions in behavioral research and treatment. New York: Plenum Press, 1978.Google Scholar
  16. Orford, J. A comparison of alcoholics whose drinking is totally uncontrolled and those whose drinking is mainly controlled. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 1973, 11, 565–576.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Orford, J., Oppenheimer, E., & Edwards, G. Abstinence or control: The outcome for excessive drinkers two years after consultation. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 1976, 14, 409–418.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Paredes, A., Hood, W. R., Seymour, H., & Gollob, M. Loss of control in alcoholism: An investigation of the hypothesis, with experimental findings. Quarterly Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 1973, 34, 1145–1161.Google Scholar
  19. Pattison, E. M., Sobell, M. B., & Sobell, L. C. (Authors/Eds.). Emerging concepts of alcohol dependence. New York: Springer, 1977.Google Scholar
  20. Seixas, F. A. Abstinence as a goal in the treatment of alcoholics. American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, 1978, 5, 293–298.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Sobell, L. C., Sobell, M. B., & Christelman, W. C. The myth of “one drink.” Behaviour Research and Therapy, 1972, 10, 119–123.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Sobell, M. B. Alternatives to abstinence: Evidence, issues and some proposals. In P. E. Nathan & G. A. Marlatt (Eds.), Experimental and behavioral approaches to alcoholism. New York: Plenum Press, 1978.Google Scholar
  23. Sobell, M. B., & Sobell, L. C. Behavioral treatment of alcohol problems: Individualized therapy and controlled drinking. New York: Plenum Press, 1978.Google Scholar
  24. Winters, A. Alternatives for the problem drinker. New York: Drake Publishers, 1978.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mark B. Sobell
    • 1
  • Linda C. Sobell
    • 1
  1. 1.Clinical InstituteAddiction Research FoundationTorontoCanada

Personalised recommendations