Gary S. Fisher, Psy. D., C.A.D.C.

healing, integration, authenticity

Behavioral Model

The behavioral model of addiction sees it as the result of a learned conditioned response. It does not deny that physiological, psychological, emotional or spiritual problems may be associated with the addiction, it simply does not believe them to be relevant to the cessation of the addictive behavior, and therefore, does not address them.
Here, the behavioral therapist is the primary clinician, with the treatment of choice centering on behavior modification therapy, including both positive reinforcement and aversive conditioning (Kissin, 1977; Sobell & Sobell, 1978). Treatment focuses on the association of the addictive behavior with negative consequences (e.g., a noxious odor that results in nausea and vomiting) or a reward for non-addictive behavior (e.g., buying oneself a CD for not having a drink).

Although some success has been achieved with this model regarding chemical addiction, it doesn’t encourage or facilitate the individual to develop a sense of personal responsibility and therefore doesn’t contribute to any deep internal change in self-perception, placing the locus (center) of control for their sobriety outside themselves, and can create fear that the ‘cure’ will wear off and they will once again be at the mercy of the compulsion to drink (Brown, 1985).