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May 1970

Behavioral Analysis of Chronic Alcoholism: Interaction of Alcohol and Human Contact

Author Affiliations

From the Alcohol Study Unit, Boston City Hospital, and the Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Boston.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1970;22(5):419-430. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1970.01740290035005

THIS paper reports on the first series of studies of experimentally induced drinking by chronic alcoholic patients in the clinical laboratory setting of the Alcohol Study Unit, Boston City Hospital.

Despite the fact that alcoholism has long been a major public health problem, investigation has only recently begun using alcohol ingestion as a variable within controlled laboratory settings. The Alcohol Study Unit at Boston City Hospital was developed specifically to provide a controlled operantly programmed ward environment to permit continuous, reliable study of the drinking behavior of chronic alcoholic subjects. In addition, design of the unit's operant apparatus and the physical layout of its patient areas allow systematic control of group interaction so that dichotomous experimental conditions of isolation—almost complete absence of human contact—and socialization—unlimited human contact—can be alternated during drinking and nondrinking periods. Operant data reported in this paper on the

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