What is aversion therapy and what are some examples of this therapeutic approach? The subject of our post here truly is a unique concept in behavior modification approaches. For those interested, let’s take a closer look.
Aversion is the predisposition of one to not like or even be deterred by a specific object or concept. Consequently, therapy through aversion is defined as “therapy intended to suppress an undesirable habit or behavior by associating the habit or behavior with a noxious or punishing stimulus.” Training the brain to associate a behavior or action with something unpleasant is how this therapy and behavior modification method works. Having covered the basics of what this type of therapy actually is, let’s now move on to examples of it in use.
To Stop Nail-Biting:
Nail-biting is a rather common, habitual behavior that affects many people of all ages. Some can stop the habit at the outset of the resolution to do so. On the other hand though, many others can really struggle to stop the habit.
Aversion therapy here typically involves the introduction of some unpleasant element to the process. Some apply a foul-tasting substance to the nail area so as to remind and deter the habitual offender. Another method of aversion here may involve placing tape over the nails or wrapped around the fingertips. The inconvenience of unwrapping for the purpose of biting then acts as the deterrent.
To Stop Smoking:
People have employed countless measures in the fight to break free of the addiction of nicotine and tobacco products. When many of these more common approaches fail, sufferers often revert to other endeavors. Therapeutic aversion is one feasible route here.
Medically administered, shock therapy is actually the primary method of expert-overseen aversion techniques in smoking cessation. In shock therapy, the patient meets with the doctor on a set schedule to undergo this rather unpleasant routine. Whenever the patient is struck with the urge to smoke or begins the process of lighting up, a shock is administered by the overseeing doctor. With repeated application, the idea is that the brain becomes quite convinced that the hunt for nicotine leads directly to too much discomfort to be worth it.
To Curb Alcoholism
For as long as alcohol has been known to man, this same substance has been responsible for countless addictions and other health problems associated with its heavy use. Aversion techniques have thus been born from the need to treat these pitfalls of alcoholism. One of the most interesting approaches here can be seen in the physician-overseen administration of specialty tryptophan metabolites. When taken regularly, these compounds prevent regular processing of alcohol within the body. As a result, drinking brings about a set of distinct digestive pains and troubles. Likewise, abstaining from drinking while on the medication promotes a great sense of well-being and euphoria.
To Resolve Weight or Diet Issues
The drive to eat can be the greatest of all human desires and drives. When we have a drive to eat all the wrong things, our bodies and our greater health thus suffer many bad consequences. Science has consequently developed all kinds of dietary and food aversion techniques and products.
There are many medications that can be taken to avert the consumption of unhealthy foods. Outside of medication, any number of personal aversion techniques can be employed so as to avoid prior habits. One of the best involves leaving junk food at the store so that when the urge comes, an inconvenient trip out is always required in order to satisfy the craving.
To Stop Gambling Addiction
Gambling addiction occurs when someone becomes addicted to gambling in any of its various forms. While there are no medications that can be prescribed here, there are a number of techniques that can be applied in order to avert the desire. One method involves paying a considerable fee to family or even a charity every time the individual seeks to gamble. Another, more serious approach is through familial shunning, or the family’s direct reaction to further gambling via refusal to associate as usual with the gambler. The time applied to this unpleasant, consequential action may vary from hours to days.
Sometimes it can be quite difficult to abstain form past behaviors and addictions. There are many professional techniques to help in this arena. However, for those that don’t get the desired results with more common methods, approaches in aversion therapy can often serve as just the right motivation to get the job done.