Classical Conditioning

Classical conditioning can be defined as a form of conditioning discovered by the famous Russian psychologist and physiologist Ivan Pavlov.
Classical conditioning occurs when an individual reacts to a stimulus that manufactures an unnatural response.

Classical conditioning was first introduced by Ivan Pavlov, a Russian physiologist, in the late 19th century. Pavlov conducted experiments with dogs, where he noticed that they would salivate when food was presented to them. However, he also observed that the dogs would start to salivate even before the food was presented, merely at the sound of a bell, if the bell had been previously associated with the presentation of food.

In addiction treatment, classical conditioning explains how environmental cues or stimuli can become associated with drug use or certain addictive behaviors. These cues can be anything from specific locations, people, objects or even certain emotions. Once an individual becomes conditioned to associate these cues with drug use or addictive behaviors, the mere presence of them can trigger powerful cravings.

For example, imagine if someone frequently used drugs in a particular room. Over time, the room itself can become a powerful trigger, eliciting strong cravings and leading to the desire to use drugs again. This conditioning can be very automatic and difficult to control, which is why understanding its role in addiction recovery is vital.

The addiction recovery community uses various terms related to classical conditioning to describe these processes. You may come across terms like “”cue exposure therapy”” or “”extinction training,”” which are techniques used to help individuals overcome conditioned addiction cues. By gradually exposing individuals to their triggers in a controlled environment without allowing them to engage in drug use or addictive behaviors, the association between the cues and cravings can be weakened or even eliminated.

Classical conditioning is an essential concept in addiction treatment because it sheds light on the mechanisms behind cravings and relapse triggers. By understanding how environmental cues become linked to addictive behaviour, individuals in recovery can develop strategies to avoid or cope with these triggers more effectively.

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    Founded in 2008, WeDoRecover has evolved from an advisory service for addiction treatment into a comprehensive provider of care, following its 2019 merger with Changes Addiction Rehab in Johannesburg. Specialising in connecting patients to top-tier addiction treatment centers in the UK, South Africa and Thailand, WeDoRecover supports individuals globally, including those from the United Arab Emirates and Europe. Accepting both South African medical aid and international health insurance our organisation facilitates access to high-quality treatment for substance and alcohol use disorders, offering individualised care that addresses the physical, mental and social needs of patients.



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