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Addiction and Cue-Triggered Decision Processes

B. Douglas Bernheim and Antonio Rangel
The American Economic Review
Vol. 94, No. 5 (Dec., 2004), pp. 1558-1590
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3592834
Page Count: 33
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Addiction and Cue-Triggered Decision Processes
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Abstract

We propose a model of addiction based on three premises: (i) use among addicts is frequently a mistake; (ii) experience sensitizes an individual to environmental cues that trigger mistaken usage; (iii) addicts understand and manage their susceptibilities. We argue that these premises find support in evidence from psychology, neuroscience, and clinical practice. The model is tractable and generates a plausible mapping between behavior and the characteristics of the user, substance, and environment. It accounts for a number of important patterns associated with addiction, gives rise to a clear welfare standard, and has novel implications for policy.

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