Behavior Modification for Replacing Addiction


There are many treatments for addiction, and some will work better for certain people than others. One such program is behavior modification. The goal of behavior modification for replacing addiction is to re-learn positive behavior to overcome the negative behavior. The techniques used to accomplish this are positive and negative reinforcement, limiting the patient's environment, setting realistic goals, and conditioning.

  • Positive Reinforcement

    This process involves praising the patient and rewarding good behavior as a way to encourage a positive self-image. The goal is not bribery or flattery, but the genuine recognition of constructive effort and growth on the part of the patient.

  • Negative Reinforcement

    Often the first step of behavior modification programs, negative reinforcement is aimed at informing the patient of his inappropriate behavior, and requesting that the behavior be changed to a more appropriate one. It is not intended to berate or demonize the patient. Consequences can range from mild rebukes to full-scale incarceration.

  • Imposed Environmental Limitations

    The goal of environmental limitation is to remove the triggers that set off an addictive behavior in the patient. A television addict, for example, might have his TV removed to avoid the temptation of overuse.

  • Goal-Setting

    By setting realistic goals, patients learn to act properly in terms of behaviors that will lead them toward or away from their stated goals. It works by laying out a long-term roadmap for growth, and by equating every behavior with its overall impact on personal development.

  • Conditioning

    Conditioning is a classic psychological technique that connects a behavior with an external result. For example, a mouse can be conditioned to press a lever by feeding him every time he does so. Similarly, a person can learn to perform or avoid any behavior if that behavior is followed consistently by a positive or negative stimulus.

Finding Treatment Providers

It is important that any behavior modification program be conducted by a trained and qualified professional. A psychiatrist, general practice physician, or any other medical professional will be able to get you in touch with someone who can answer your questions about behavior modification or any of the other options for treating addiction. There may also be support groups of your peers operating in the area. They can also help you find the resources you need.


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