Exposure therapy in addiction treatment

Exposure therapy in addiction treatment

Exposure therapy is a specific type of cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy technique that is often used in the treatment of PTSD and phobias, but exposure therapy is also used in addiction treatment. Exposure therapy in addiction treatment works the same way it does when it is used to treat PTSD and phobias.

Exposure therapy in addiction treatment, just like when it is used for patients with PTSD, is intended to help the patient face and gain control of their addiction. The way exposure therapy in addiction treatment does this is by literally exposing the addict or alcoholic to certain fears, triggers, traumas and stressors. Exposure therapy is done carefully so as not to flood the patient but rather build up to the most severe stressors. The point of this exposure therapy is to desensitize the addict or alcoholic to potential stressors and triggers.

There are many studies that point towards alcoholics and addicts having automatic responses to cues such as seeing as alcohol or places they may have used. Much like when someone who is hungry sees food wants to eat they believe that the alcoholic responds to alcohol in the same way. So in order to combat this exposure therapy in addiction treatment, literally exposes the alcoholic to cues that would normally create a response or want to drink in the alcoholic and gives the alcoholic or addict coping methods or techniques to use to combat and eventually no longer respond in the old way they used to.

Exposure therapy in addiction treatment is a very new concept that doesn’t have a lot of proof of effectiveness to back it up. The rates of relapse after someone has been through exposure therapy have not been studied. While exposure therapy for PTSD has been effective for the treatment of trauma and stress there has been no proof that it will work in addiction treatment. In fact, exposure therapy in addiction treatment could end up having the opposite effect, instead of helping actually hurting the alcoholic.

In one study this is what they had to say about exposure therapy in addiction treatment:

“There continues to be little evidence for the superior efficacy of Cue Exposure Therapy (CET) over other forms of substance abuse treatment. However, it should be emphasized that the efficacy trials did not find CET to be ineffective; indeed CET subjects improved significantly from baseline, though these improvements did not differ from the other active treatment conditions.”

And of course there are all the other problems that anyone who is in the addiction treatment field knows: “Studies investigating Cue Exposure Therapy continue to be challenged by a number of methodological problems, including small sample sizes, high dropout rates, lack of objective measures of substance use and lack of procedures for preventing substance use between extinction sessions.”

The truth about addiction and alcoholism most likely is that any kind of addiction treatment is better than no treatment at all. But when it comes to treating alcoholism and addiction, in my opinion, how can you possibly expect an alcoholic to want to stop drinking by exposing them to things that make them want to drink; even with the better tools to cope with it etc.

http://www.benthamscience.com/open/toaddj/articles/V003/SI0055TOADDJ/92TOADDJ.pdf

 

History of Therapy: Sigmund Freud

History of Therapy:  Sigmund Freud

History of Therapy:  Sigmund Freud

Sigmund Freud is probably one of the most well-known therapists of all time. He pioneered new techniques that are still used in psychotherapy today. His theory of personality is the most comprehensive ever developed.  He was the founding father of psychoanalysis.

History of Therapy:  Sigmund Freud:  How he changed psychotherapy

Early psychology focused on conscious human experience. Sigmund Freud changed the face of psychology by proposing a theory of personality that emphasized the importance of the unconscious mind. It was Freud’s belief that all of our actions and behaviors can be traced back to their unconscious thoughts and desires. Freud worked with many patients suffering from what was known then as hysteria. He postulated that their early childhood experiences and unconscious impulses contributed to their adult personality and behavior.

History of Therapy: Sigmund Freud: Development of psychoanalytic therapy

Psychoanalytic therapy is based on the work of Sigmund Freud, who developed his theories in the 1800’s. In 1885, Freud went to work with another psychiatrist, Jean-Martin Charcot, who used hypnosis to treat women who were suffering from what was then known as hysteria. These women presented with partial paralysis, hallucinations, and nervousness.

Freud took what he learned and continued to research hypnosis in treatment. He then worked with another psychiatrist who had discovered that women suffering from hysteria benefited by talking about it. Freud combined the “talk therapy” technique with hypnosis and began to use them both in his practice.

History of Therapy: Sigmund Freud: Ongoing work

Sigmund Freud continued to develop his theory over a period of over half a century. In 1923, Sigmund Freud described his constructs of the id, ego, and the superego. According to Freud, the id is the most primitive part of personality. It operates according to the pleasure principle and seeks instant gratification. Freud also believed that every living human had a life and death instinct. He called the life instinct the eros and the death instinct the thanatos. Both the life and death instinct are part of the id. The energy that powers the id, according to Freud, is the libido.

In Freud’s theory, the ego is extremely objective. It operates according to reality and deals with the demands of the environment. It regulates the libido and keeps the id in check. It acts as the control center.

The superego represents the values and standards of an individual’s feelings of pride and heightened self-esteem. The superego is the part of the personality that strives for perfection.

Freud believed that the development of these three factors determines a person’s behavior in any given situation. Their behavior in a situation in turn develops their personality. Sigmund Freud put a lot of importance on the early years of childhood because that’s when he believed the three parts of personality were developed. He called these early years the psychosexual years, and he believed that each child went through five stages. Some people, Freud believed, became stuck in certain stages and for that reason; they were unable to fully develop.

Sources:

http://psychology.about.com/od/historyofpsychology/a/psychistory_2.htm

http://psychology.about.com/od/pindex/f/psychoanalytic-therapy.htm

http://www.muskingum.edu/~psych/psycweb/history/freud.htm