Barking up the wrong tree: Why and how we may need to revise alcohol addiction therapy

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One of the main characteristics of alcohol abuse and addiction is the loss of control over alcohol intake and the continuation of drinking in the face of negative consequences. Mounting evidence strongly suggests that an alcohol-induced imbalance between goal-directed and habitual behavior may be one of the main driving factors of this key feature of addiction and furthermore play a key role in staying abstinent. Current therapies often focus only on deficient inhibitory control (i.e., goal-directed behavior), but largely neglect the potential of the well-functioning habit formation found in patients. Yet, focusing on intact habitual/automatic mechanisms in addition to or maybe even instead of deficient cognitive control might equip us with a more effective tool to battle the current alcohol abuse and addiction epidemic, especially with respect to more severely impacted patients who likely suffer from permanent alcohol-induced brain damage. Against this background, I would like to advocate the application and scientific evaluation of habit reversal therapy (HRT) for alcohol abuse and addiction.




Stock, A. K. (2017). Barking up the wrong tree: Why and how we may need to revise alcohol addiction therapy. Frontiers in Psychology, 8(MAY).

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