Substance Abuse as a Dynamical Disease: Evidence and Clinical Implications of Nonlinearity in a Time Series of Daily Alcohol Consumption

Keith Warren
College of Social Work, The Ohio State University, Stillman Hall, 1947 College Road, Columbus, OH 43210, USA

Raymond C. Hawkins, II
Department of Psychology, The University of Texas, Austin, TX, USA

Julien C. Sprott
Physics Department, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, USA

(Available online 31 January 2003)


Several authors have suggested that chaos theory, the study of nonlinear dynamics and the application of the knowledge gained to natural and social phenomena, might yield insight into substance-related disorders. In this article, we examine the dynamics of substance abuse by fitting a nonlinear model to a time series of the amount of alcohol, which an adult male with a diagnosis of substance abuse consumed on a daily basis. The nonlinear model shows a statistically superior fit when compared to a linear model. We then use the model to explore a question that is pertinent to the treatment of substance abuse, whether controlled drinking or abstinence is a preferred strategy for maintaining sobriety.

Ref: K. Warren, R. C. Hawkins, and J. C. Sprott, Addictive Behaviors 28, 369-374 (2003).

The complete paper is available in PDF format.

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