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Associative Learning and Conditioning TheoryHuman and Non-Human Applications$
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Todd R. Schachtman and Steve S. Reilly

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199735969

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199735969.001.0001

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Applications of Contemporary Learning Theory in the Treatment of Drug Abuse

Applications of Contemporary Learning Theory in the Treatment of Drug Abuse

(p.235) Chapter 11 Applications of Contemporary Learning Theory in the Treatment of Drug Abuse
Associative Learning and Conditioning Theory

Danielle E. McCarthy

Timothy B. Baker

Haruka M. Minami

Vivian M. Yeh

Oxford University Press

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

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