Wednesday, June 21, 2023

The Role of Positive and Negative Reinforcement in Alcohol Abuse

 I was curious about the difference between positive and negative reinforcement in regards to alcohol abuse, so I pulled up a research article discussing the differences to the onset of a potential disorder to the substance. The researchers discussed how positive reinforcement involves the social enhancement provided by alcohol usage, in which an individual engages to not necessarily run from anything in particular, but seek out the pleasant feelings that come from drinking. Negative reinforcement in this case, however, involves using alcohol to run from stress, depression, or anxiety. 

The researchers used a review from another study to talk about how positive reinforcement with alcohol abuse is associated with binge drinking in singular social settings, but doesn’t have to mean there is a dependence on alcohol in every case. In the means of negative reinforcement, there is a much greater prevalence of alcohol dependency amongst adolescents and young adults. Both positive and negative reinforcement tie similarly in the patterns of the early stages of addiction, but negative reinforcement shows itself to have a much higher onset.


Cho, S. B., Su, J., Kuo, S. I.-C., Bucholz, K. K., Chan, G., Edenberg, H. J., McCutcheon, V. V., Schuckit, M. A., Kramer, J. R., & Dick, D. M. (2019). Positive and negative reinforcement are differentially associated with alcohol consumption as a function of alcohol dependence. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 33(1), 58–68. 

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