Aversion Therapy

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Introduction

Aversion therapy mostly uses behavioral principles in terms of conditioning in this therapy; the patient is conditioned in a certain way to associate their addiction with a very negative outcome. The therapy can be chemically based, whereby Antabuse substance interferes with an individual’s metabolism process when alcohol is consumed. Through the chemical substance when one consumes alcohol, the Antabuse prevents the alcohol from being broken down; when this is done the individual experiences really bad effects that are similar to those of severe hangover. These effects include nausea, an increased heart rate; others may experience breath shortness and severe vomiting. Another form of aversion therapy includes the use of hypnosis; this as well causes discomfort in an individual. Through this therapy an individual will associate drinking with uncomfortable situations.

Summary of article by Jordan on Aversion Therapy

“Aversion Therapies in the treatment of alcoholism” by Jordan is an article regarding the use of aversion therapy in treatment of alcoholism. The reason Jordan conducted this study was to find out whether aversion therapy is of value towards treating alcoholism. In the first part of his article Jordan looks at the theory part of the therapy and compares it with the data collected from clinical experiments.

Second part of his article interprets the findings mostly empirical on whether the aversion therapy is of value in treating alcoholism among the affected individuals. He looks at experiments done in Schick Shadel Sanatorium. In the experiment Emetine is used together with alcoholic beverages so as to produce repulsive reaction towards alcohol. He explains the effects of the therapy on some of the patients; whereby some of them experienced paralysis, nausea and vomiting. The post treatment period proved that most of the patients showed a very intense behavioral reaction towards being given alcohol for the second time. Most of them did not want to taste alcohol again; as the author describes, one even threw the bottle that was given to him on the floor. Another patient did not lift a bottle after the therapy but he was able to lift a flashlight that was used to inspect his eyes (Jordan K, 2007).

Jordan describes symptoms that patients showed in their follow up clinics from 3 weeks up to one year. Some of patients exhibited dizziness, anxiety, fear and guilt regarding alcoholism as well as crying spells. He describes the empirical findings of the patients in the clinical experiment; whereby, two thirds of the patients exhibited such symptoms when they were approaching alcohol or were just seeing it being displayed, as headache, sweating and trembling. Eleven patients showed disgust towards alcohol. After one year follow up, most patients did not exhibit any physical signs or emotional disturbances. Some patients, however, reported reaction to some other liquids, other than that of alcoholic beverages, such as vinegar, (Center for disease control and prevention, 2006).

Some other patients, however, showed that the therapy did not prevent them from drinking again. One patient approached alcohol in a fridge like it was a dangerous thing but when he drank a few sips and his anxiety did not increase, he drank the whole bottle and went for a crate. During the one year follow up, 10% of the patients kept away from alcohol, 64% did not stop drinking but reduced their intake, 20% continued drinking but did not have a drinking problem and 6% of the patients died of alcohol related diseases. Jordan concluded that the chance of the therapy making a patient quit alcohol was very slim and cannot be considered more effective than other methods of curbing alcoholism. He recommended that a thorough analysis of alcoholism is required to enable a well informed treatment regime since alcoholism comes with a lot of disabilities and disorders.

Principle of conditioning

The principle of conditioning is incorporated by the use of experimental conditioning, whereby they condition negative responses, such as electric shock or other substances that lead to uncomfortable situations when alcohol is ingested. Some patients are administered with disulfiram; this is an Antabuse that makes the patient to have physical reactions. When the patient imagines drinking alcohol, images of physical reactions will deter him from taking alcohol. Through this therapy patients are able to have repulsion when it comes to alcohol.

Effectiveness of the aversion therapy study

Aversion therapy makes an individual have repulsion when he/ she gets in contact with alcohol. Some of the patients may exhibit such repulsions when in treatment, but after their treatment cycle is over, they relapse to old habits of drinking and the study in this case will be very ineffective.

Furthermore, the study faces a lot of ethical issues on the use of intense and violent reactions to curb alcoholism; it is the major concern in the use of punishment as a way of treatment. Some of the reactions, such as anxiety, also may interfere with treatment of the patient rendering the study ineffective. The study lacks scientific proofs to support its activities as well as its effectiveness in controlling alcoholism in individuals. All in all, the effectiveness of this study is questionable, since ways the patients may act during therapy are different from those after therapy, when all the electric shocks and substances are withdrawn (Witkiewitz K. G and Marlatt, A., 2011).

The article by Jordan was very effective in that most studies show that the value of aversion therapy depends on a number of factors. The article is focused on various factors to which the patients were conditioned, as to get accurate data to analyze effectiveness of the aversion therapy. Aversion therapy is yet to proof its effectiveness in controlling alcoholism and further research is to be done in order to ensure efficient and effective results in the future.

Definition

Antabuse is a medicine that was approved for treatment of alcohol abuse and dependence.

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