ADVANTAGES

. From a classical conditioning paradigm, this objective concentrates on extinguishing a learned behavior tied to the substance use disorder. Of course, this objective can also be worded in a treatment plan in terms much more familiar to the client than psychological jargon. The therapist informs the client that the purpose is to change behavior by cutting the link between a signal (that drugs or alcohol are available and desirable) and a response (using a psychoactive substance) that the individual has learned to make to that signal. The therapist further explains that this is accomplished by learning new responses that shrink the power of the signal, and by reducing one’s exposure to potent signals. For example, the stated plan could be to help a client find alternative, healthier means of reacting to boredom, anger, sadness, or frustration without resorting to drug or alcohol use. In another case, the plan might be to avoid exposure to people, events, or other cues that the client associates with drug use. In both examples, the action involves substituting a new behavior for a former one. In the first method, a new behavior is learned to respond to the same old difficult emotions. In the second case, the plan is to make changes in the client’s environment so that the stimuli that trigger substance use are less available. Prochaska and Norcross (1994; 2014) distinguish these two methods of altering classically conditioned responses by pointing out that the first, counterconditioning, focuses on changing the individual’s experience, which the second, stimulus control, emphasizes change of the person’s environment.

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