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October 1974

Explorations of a Systems Approach to AlcoholismClinical Observations of a Simulated Drinking Gang

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1974;31(4):527-532. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1974.01760160071015

An experimental model was established in which up to six chronic alcoholic subjects were admitted to a research ward and permitted to drink in a setting that included a token economy designed to replicate the major features of an alcoholic drinking gang. Three separate study groups were observed.

Clinical observations of interactional behavior in all three groups followed a pattern that was characterized as primitive and scarce, a depressed atmosphere, and a bored and underutilized staff. Nevertheless all study groups were trouble free and smoothly functioning with very few examples of regressive behavior.

These observations are contrasted with behavior noted on previous studies in the same experimental setting and support the notion of the "drinking system."