2. Psychological interventions – homework

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The Psychology of Addictive Behaviour
Models of
Biological, cognitive and learning approaches to
explaining initiation, maintenance and relapse, and
their applications to smoking and gambling.
Vulnerability to
Risk factors in the development of addiction,
including stress, peers, age and personality.
Media influences on addictive behaviour.
The theory of planned behaviour as a model for
addiction prevention.
Types of intervention and their effectiveness,
including biological, psychological and public
health interventions.
Psychological Interventions
 Combination of behavioural and cognitive
 They are based on the assumption that if we are
able to learn addictive behaviours, such as
smoking and gambling, then we are also able to
unlearn them.
 Focus on changing irrational/faulty cognitions into
rational ones!
Role of operant conditioning
The principles of operant conditioning have
been applied in the treatment of addictive
The idea behind this treatment is that by
giving people rewards for not engaging in
the addictive behaviour, this will actually
reduce the addcitive behaviour.
Supporting research: OC
Sindelar et al (2007)
Aim: investigated whether the provision of money as
rewards would produce better patient outcome for people
on a methadone treatment programme.
Procedure: PTs were randomly allocated to two
conditions; reward (experimental group) or no-reward
(control group). They also received their usual care; a daily
dose of methadone and individual and group counselling
sessions. PTs in the reward condition drew for prizes of
various monetary value every time they tested negative for
drugs (urine sample).
Supporting research: OC
Sindelar et al (2007)
Findings: It was found that drug use dropped
significantly in the reward condition, with the number of
negative urine samples being 66% higher than in the
control condition.
Conclusion: this suggests that the principles of operant
conditioning, in particular positive reinforcement, led
to the reduction of addictive behaviour. I.e. if rewarded for
not engaging in addiction, then behaviour was reduced.
 CBT is based on the idea that addictive behaviours
are maintained by the person’s thoughts about these
 The main goal of CBT is to help people change the
way that they think about their addiction
(cognition), and to learn new ways of coping more
effectively with the circumstances that led to these
behaviours in the past (behavioural), e.g. stressful
Relapse Prevention (CBT)
 Relapse prevention involves several cognitive and
behavioural strategies to help the individual stay
away from the addictive behaviour and also to
provide support for people who do relapse.
 Therapists help to identify situations that present a
risk for relapse for the individual.
 They also provide the addict with techniques to learn
how to cope with temptation (positive selfstatements and distracting activities) combined
with the use of covert modelling (e.g. practice the
coping skills in one’s imagination).
Behavioural therapy may eliminate
the behaviour but not the problem
The addiction could be due to an underlying
psychological problem rather than a learned
maladaptive behaviour (i.e. a behaviour that
causes an individual harm). Behavioural
therapies eliminate the addictive behaviour but
not the problem, may simply start to engage in
another addictive behaviour instead.
Behavioural therapies often
used in conjunction with other
addictive treatments.
It is difficult to evaluate the effectiveness
of behavioural therapies as often combined
with other techniques e.g. drugs.
The effectiveness of CBT.
Reasonably effective but more effective
when in combination with medication.
Feeney et al (2002) found that only
14% remained abstinent on CBT alone
compared to 38% who received medication
and CBT.
Exam focus
 Apply your psychological knowledge of
biological and psychological interventions to
the past-exam question (June 2012).
 In pairs, read the scenario and bullet point
ideas in your booklets.
 10 marks = 10 minutes.

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