Substance addiction among people can be seen all around us. Addictive behaviour may involve abuse of substance such as alcohol, nicotine and cocaine etc. Research has shown that substance addiction is a learnt behaviour. Pavlovian conditioning is the process where two stimuli are paired repeatedly. The response which was produced by one stimulus is eventually produced by second stimulus, even in the absence of first stimulus. This concept was given by Ivan Pavlov. In operant conditioning, behaviour is result of the consequences that follow it.
This results in decrease in the capacity of environmental cues to elicit craving. Aversion therapy is another application of Pavlovian conditioning which can be used in case of alcohol addiction. The therapist forms association between alcohol and nausea or vomiting through principle of pavlovian conditioning. However, the effect of aversion therapy is short term. The therapist may use cognitive behaviour therapy to treat addiction (Otto, O’Cleirigh and Pollack, 2007). Operant conditioning is effective in treating substance use. The main principle is to reward healthy behaviour (reward must be substantial). Community Reinforcement and Family Training therapy (CRAFT) is based on operant conditioning. CRAFT therapy has been effective in treating alcohol use disorder (Berger et al., 2016). Behaviourist also focus on teaching skills essential for emotional regulation and distress tolerance. Emotional regulation teaches clients to understand and cope with emotions to not use substance as an escape.
Pavlovian and operant conditioning play an important role in the onset and maintenance of addiction. Conditioning plays a crucial role in treatment. Studies and research support that addiction is a learnt behaviour. Pavlovian conditioning emphasizes on association of environmental stimulus with substance and operant conditioning focuses on reinforcement of behaviour through reward. For treatment of substance use, several therapies are used which are based on the principles of Pavlovian and operant conditioning.