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December 1971

A Quantitative Analysis of Drinking Patterns in Alcoholics

Author Affiliations

Washington DC; Boston
From the Division of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, National Institute of Mental Health, Washington DC (Dr. Mello) and the Department of Psychiatry, Boston City Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston (Dr. Mendelson).

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1971;25(6):527-539. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1971.01750180047009

Drinking patterns of 15 alcoholic volunteers, given unrestricted access to alcohol, were strikingly similar, both within and between subjects with respect to: total volume of alcohol purchased; the total volume of alcohol purchased at each purchase opportunity; the distribution of interpurchase times; and the daily mean blood alcohol levels. Individual alcoholics may show great variations in the overall daily volume-frequency patterns which appears to be dependent in part on the schedule of reinforcement associated with alcohol acquisition. There was little temporal concordance in discrete drinking episodes between subjects studied in the same group. The implications of these data for simulation of naturally occurring spontaneous drinking patterns are discussed.