Attending to Emotional Cues for Drug Abuse: Bridging the Gap Between Clinic and Home Behaviors
Otto, Michael W.
O'Cleirigh, Conall M.
Pollack, Mark H.
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CitationOtto, Michael W., Conall M. O'Cleirigh, Mark H. Pollack. "Attending to Emotional Cues for Drug Abuse: Bridging the Gap Between Clinic and Home Behaviors" Science & Practice Perspectives 3(2): 48-55. (2007)
Classical conditioning models of addiction provide keys to understanding the vexing discrepancy between substance abuse patients' desire to abstain when they are in therapy sessions and their tendency to relapse. Experiments using these models demonstrate the power of environmental relapse cues and support clinical approaches, including active exposure, aimed at helping patients recognize and withstand them. Internal cues, including emotions and somatic states such as withdrawal, can trigger urges as powerfully as external cues such as people, places, and things associated with prior abuse. The authors describe a cognitive-behavioral therapy approach that focuses on identifying and actively inducing each patient's high-risk emotions, then helping him or her develop and practice healthy responses. Clinical trials support the approach for patients with panic disorder who have trouble discontinuing benzodiazepines, and early trials suggest it may be useful for patients addicted to other drugs as well.