sketching a brain on whiteboard aversion therapy treatment

Schick Shadel’s Aversion Therapy Treatment & Counter Conditioning

Alcohol and drugs create deceptive feelings of well-being, and aversion therapy does the opposite.  The result is a lack of concern for and confidence in other areas of life, compounded by physical dependence on the substance, making people give up their most basic needs. So what is aversion therapy? Aversion therapy is a form of counter conditioning that helps remove cravings. The repetitious act of drug or alcohol use just strengthens the memory. Like a hard drive or digital camera, physical experiences stored in memory can be played back when triggered. Addiction builds associations in the brain that become embedded in short and long-term memory.

Drug and alcohol rehabilitation, paired with counter conditioning, works because it targets the signals for those memories with an adverse response. Environmental stimuli, such as taste, smell, sight, and setting, cause the brain to associate pleasurable feelings with the use of drugs or alcohol. This is the root of a craving. These stimuli are paired with a medically supervised stimulus to create an aversion, or an unpleasant motor response such as nausea. Because the patient’s brain will now automatically associate the addictive substances with unpleasant feelings, it effectively eliminates the craving. In a recent study by University of Washington, 69% of participating patients reported they were sober 12 months after  Schick’s aversion therapy for alcohol treatment.

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How Does Aversion Therapy Work?

Brain & Body Conditioning

What is aversion therapy? Many people have probably experienced counter conditioning in their lives. For example, suppose you loved cherries. One day, you make yourself violently sick from eating too many cherries. As a result, from that moment on, the thought of cherries would make you nauseous because you would associate them with that experience. This is essentially how aversion therapy treatment works.

Using this principle, Schick Shadel can ensure that we attack drug and alcohol addiction where it lives: in the psychology and physiology of the patient, where the brain has formed associations and memories that cannot be rationalized or argued out of existence. A person can spend hours of precious time and energy fighting cravings through sheer willpower, but Schick Shadel believes that alcohol and drug rehabilitation can be more effective. We want to give our patients a life free from the constant struggle that wears on even the most successful recovering addicts.