Addiction affects millions of individuals on a daily basis. Although many believe that drug addiction occurs because of family history of abuse, genetics, or poverty, this is not the case. Addiction is a learned behavior ( Higgins, Heil, & Sigmon, as cited in Sturmey, 2007). The process of learning occurs through operant and respondent conditioning. Operant and respondent conditioning have dual roles in drug addiction.
Operant conditioning relies on consequences and reinforcements after a behavior occurs which increases or decreases behavior (Sturmey, 2007). The behavior that the individual partakes in is voluntary; the consequences of this behavior are either positive or negative. If the individual finds that the drug has consequences that he/she finds rewarding (e.g. feeling good, happiness, or fearlessness), then the individual will engage in drug using behavior again. For example, if an individual is feeling down or angry about losing his job, may start to drink alcohol. The alcohol allows makes this individual feel happy and have a “who cares attitude”. This reinforcement of this behavior is negative as it allows the individual to avoid angry or sad feelings (Smith, Milford, & Meyers, 2004). This can occur with positive consequences, such as alcohol allowing an individual to increase in socialization with others as their shyness has been subdued.
A treatment option for addicts that is based on operant conditioning is CRAFT (Meyers, Smith, & Lash, 2005). CRAFT is known as Community Reinforcement and Family Training (Meyers et al., 2005). The CRAFT program is a program for concerned significant others (CSO) that want to assist their loved one (IP, identified patient) into getting into treatment for their addiction by changing their behavior towards the IP (Meyers et al., 2005). The CRAFT programs three major goals are “to decrease the IP’s substance use; 2) get the substance user into treatment; and 3) increase the CSOs own happiness, independent of...
References: Haverman, R.C., Mulkens, S., Nederkoorn, C., & Jansen, A. (2007). The efficacy of cue exposure with response prevention in extinguishing drug and alcohol cue reactivity. Behavioral Interventions, 22(2), 121-135
Higgins, S.T., Heil, S.H., & Sigmon, S.C. (2007). A behavioral approach to the treatment of substance abuse disorders. In P. Sturmey (Ed.). Functional analysis in clinical treatment (pp. 261-282). Amsterdam: Elsevier.
Meyers, R.J., Smith, J.E., & Lash, D.N. (2005). A program for engaging treatment-refusing substance abusers into treatment: CRAFT. International Journal of Behavioral Consultation and Therapy, 1(2), 90-100. Retrieve from http://eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/custom/portlets/recordDetails/detailmini.jsp?_nfpb=true&_&ERICExtSearch_SearchValue_0=EJ844316&ERICExtSearch_SearchType_0=no&accno=EJ844316
Smith, J.E., Milford, J.L., & Meyers, R.J. (2004). CRA and CRAFT: Behavioral approaches to treating substance-abusing individuals. The Behavior Analyst Today, 5(4), 391-402.
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