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Title The efficacy of an imaginative therapy in treatment of alcohol-dependent patients
Publication Date
Date Accessioned
University/Publisher Freie Universität Berlin
Abstract Introduction: One of the psychotherapeutic methods used in the treatment of alcohol-dependent patients is exposure therapy. Here, the patient is confronted with a real stimulus that is supposed to generate strong desire (craving) for alcohol. The patient ideally makes the experience that craving, without consumption of alcohol, subsides again. One possible mechanism is habituation, meaning the decline in response to a repeatedly presented stimulus. In a study on the control of food intake it was demonstrated that the imagination of eating chocolate subsequently reduced food intake significantly. The presumed mechanism was habituation. This study examined the effectiveness of an imaginative cue-exposure protocol in the treatment of alcohol-dependent patients. The repeated imagination of alcohol is supposed to reduce the craving and increase the duration of abstinence. Methods: 60 patients and 10 healthy control subjects were divided into 7 study groups. The experimental groups received a pictorial presentation of alcohol, water or a liquid detergent with a different order, depending on treatment group. Based on the presentations, the patients were repeatedly asked to imagine drinking water or alcohol or to imagine the operation of filling detergent into a washing machine. The levels of craving were measured before and after the first session. As a surrogate marker for evaluating the abstinence period, the number of completed sessions was used. Results: The craving level before and after the first imagination in the 30x alcohol-imagination-group did not lead to a significant decrease of craving. The control condition of filling detergent showed significant decrease of craving. Healthy controls showed a trendwise decrease of the urge to drink. The comparison of completed sessions of the studygroups with a control group of alcohol-dependent patients who received no imagination, showed no significant differences. Discussion: The effectiveness of the imaginative method to reduce alcoholic craving and an increase of the duration of abstinence could not be shown. A possible reason could be the altered ability to habituate alcohol-associated stimuli. Also, the mono-modal representation of alcohol as an image may not be sufficient to bring about an effective craving reduction. The craving reduction in the control condition detergent imagination could find a possible explanation with the absence of alcohol-associated stimuli. In order to establish an imaginative method in the treatment of alcohol-dependent patients there is need for research into intervention design, patient selection and the basic mechanisms of habituation or sensitization on craving triggering stimuli.
Subjects/Keywords alcohol; dependent; imagination; habituation; cue-exposure; therapy; craving; 600 Technik, Medizin, angewandte Wissenschaften::610 Medizin und Gesundheit
Contributors m (gender); N.N. (firstReferee); N.N. (furtherReferee)
Language de
Rights http://www.fu-berlin.de/sites/refubium/rechtliches/Nutzungsbedingungen
open access
Country of Publication de
Record ID oai:refubium.fu-berlin.de:fub188/10005
Repository fu-berlin
Date Retrieved
Date Indexed 2019-12-16
Issued Date 2017-01-01 00:00:00

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