Aversion therapy, sometimes used as a treatment for addiction, works by creating an association between an unpleasant feeling and a maladaptive behavior.
At Lionrock, we don’t use aversion therapy.
Best practices addiction treatment, defined by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Agency (SAMHSA) and the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) is “evidence-based”. This term is generally meant to contrast with more faith-based modalities of treatment or support, among which are the 12 Step tradition programs like Alcoholics Anonymous.
At Lionrock, we are committed to meeting clients where they are, and in compliance with treatment best practices, we design a customized treatment plan to accommodate each client’s individual needs. Currently, the basis of most “evidence-based” addiction treatment programs is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT. Lionrock’s treatment plans use CBT with an appropriate mixture of other methods, for example Motivational Interviewing, to find the right fit for our clients.
Our balanced approach emphasizes the positive outcomes of sobriety, rather than aversion therapy’s focus on negative feelings.
Aversion Therapy can be used to treat alcohol abuse, drug abuse, and smoking, as well as process addictions like gambling and sex. As with CBT, aversion therapy is based on the principle that behaviors are learned and can be unlearned. Both methods fall into the category of “classical conditioning”.
In aversion therapy, therapists pair an unpleasant feeling or sensation with the behavior the client wishes to eliminate. Traditional aversion therapy uses either chemical aversion, a terrible smell or unpleasant taste, or electrical aversion, in which the client is shocked by electricity, when the client engages in the targeted behavior. Since 1967, covert sensitization, aversion in the imagination, has replaced the traditional negative stimulus methods. This is done by asking the client to imagine a very negative consequence while engaging in the target behavior.
The pharmaceutical drug Disulfiram, sold under the trade names Antabuse and Antabus, is sometimes used in aversion therapy of alcoholism. Disulfiram works by producing an acute sensitivity to ethanol (alcohol). By inhibiting the enzyme acetaldehyde dehydrogenase, Disulfiram makes a drinker of alcohol immediately feel ill, experiencing an instant hangover.