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What the heck?
Aversion therapy is a type of behavioural therapy. Behavioural therapy is
designed to remove or change unwanted behaviour e.g alcoholism and
drug addictions. Following the classical conditioning theory which states
that we learn by associating stimuli with certain responses, it's aim is to
associate these behaviours with an unpleasant response, therefore
stopping them from occurring.
But how does this exactly work?
If we take alcoholism as an example, it's usually used in conjunction with
something called an emetic drug. This is a drug that, when taken, makes a
person sick. The therapy works by associating the taking of this drug with
drinking alcohol, therefore eventually associating drinking alcohol with
In terms of classical conditioning?
Emetic drug = Vomiting
Emetic drug + Alcohol = Vomiting
Alcohol = Vomiting
Flawley and Smith studied an aversion therapy programme and found that
81% of people were clear of alcohol after the therapy and 71.3% were still
clear of alcohol 6 months after finishing the therapy.
BUT... most researchers say that other methods are more successful, for
example having the patients come off the alcohol slowly, instead of all at
once. And it's shown that it's only as successful as it is when it's in
conjunction with other therapies.
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Obviously there's ethical issues to think about!?
Yes! Aversion therapy requires the patient to go through a complete
detox before the therapy begins, this can induce some severe withdrawal
symptoms within patients. But this is considered to be ethical, when we
compare these effects with the long term health issues which the patients
are faced with if they don't undergo the therapy.…read more