Posts tagged alcoholism treatment

Cognitive-Bias Modification

For Alcoholics, New Help in Abstaining—Without Thinking About It

Alcoholism is a tough addiction to kick. Eventually, most people return to drinking. But some Dutch and German psychological scientists have tested a short-term regime that promises to help alcoholics stay sober. Their study is published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association of Psychological Science. Heavy drinkers tend to behave impulsively in response to temptation. Meanwhile, their “reflective,” or controlled, responses—the thoughts that would help them resist drinking—are often weak. Most therapies, including Cognitive Behavior Therapy, primarily address the reflective responses. “They deal with the reasons and strategies” for sobriety, said University of Amsterdam experimental psychologist Reinout W. Wiers, the study’s lead author. To boost treatment success, his team developed cognitive-bias modification, or CBM, which, for the first time, “tries to turn around those impulsive responses.” This newly developed CBM variety employs video-game-like “approach-avoidance tasks”: pushing or pulling a joystick in response to images on a screen. Pulling zooms in on the image, as if the participant were “approaching” it. Pushing zooms out, in “avoidance.” The team’s earlier studies found that heavier drinkers, shown images of alcoholic beverages or soft drinks, are faster to “pull” the alcohol than lighter drinkers—but CBM can turn this “approach bias” into an “avoidance bias.”

Could CBM help serious alcoholics?

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Also, the APS is discussing it on their facebook page.