Chapter

Applications of Contemporary Learning Theory in the Treatment of Drug Abuse

Danielle E. McCarthy, Timothy B. Baker, Haruka M. Minami and Vivian M. Yeh

in Associative Learning and Conditioning Theory

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780199735969
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199894529 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199735969.003.0079
Applications of Contemporary Learning Theory in the Treatment of Drug Abuse

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Addictive drug use can be viewed as an overlearned avoidance behavior maintained on a variable reinforcement schedule. This chapter explores the implications of this conceptualization of drug use and contemporary models of avoidance learning, and stimulus and response learning more generally, for drug treatment in humans. Existing treatments are analyzed in terms of their ability to alter the learning that sustains chronic use and prompts relapse. The relevance of stimulus and response learning is discussed, along with the applicability of animal learning research to human drug use. Suggestions for novel treatments are outlined based on basic research on Pavlovian and operant conditioning and extinction. The chapter focuses on tobacco addiction but has implications for other drugs of abuse.

Keywords: smoking; cessation; relapse; treatment; learning

Chapter.  21926 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Cognitive Psychology

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