Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
There are 2 basic ways to treat Learned Behaviour Disorders: remove all the stimulii that trigger the behaviour (for a time), or prevent reinforcement of the behaviour.

In the case of alcohol, the stimulii are hard to remove because we have learned to drink so many different drinks in so many different places at different times of the day, in different company. It is a very complex behaviour.

But theoretically, if you had only ever drunk one cider a day at 6pm, alone in a red room, wearing a monkey suit, then the unavailability of those stimulii would, over time, erase the behaviour.

Being unable to remove the stimulii, the answer to alcoholism is to prevent reinforcement with, for instance, opioid blockers. For most of us, alcohol is a learned behaviour but not a disorder. It becomes a disorder when it becomes a dominant behaviour that is personally destructive. Before this point, other treatments can be beneficial (except punishment), while alternative behaviours should be encouraged before they are suppressed by the increasingly dominant behaviour of finding and drinking alcohol.

So I agree with Frank that counselling - encouraging and facilitating alternate behaviours - does work. The old behaviours, like an old romance, can sometimes be revived. But beyond a certain point, when the drinking behaviour has become dominant - to the exclusion of all else - the only intervention is the biochemical prevention of reinforcement.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Jan 3rd, 2011 at 05:33:24 PM EST
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