Project Proposal Paper written by
University of Canberra
Word Count: 1584
Alcohol has a complex place in Australian society; many Australians drink at high levels, and increased risk of alcohol related harm. Current addiction models suggest that alcohol- related stimuli will acquire incentive-motivational properties and increase cravings. This study investigated the efficacy of systematic desensitisation of alcohol-related cues on a single participant. (32 year old Anglo-Australian male).
This study showed that while systematic desensitisation of arousal associated with alcohol-related cues can assist with people with drinking problems, a more holistic approach is needed.
Intervention Program to Reduce Excessive Drinking
The psychological field of behavioural modification is concerned with the analysing and modifying human behaviours. It flows from the application of the basic principles derived by Skinner (1938) in his experimental research with animals. The experimental analysis of behaviour, or behaviour analysis, is the scientific study of behaviour human behaviours, and focuses on the identification of functional relationships between environmental factors and behaviours to determine the reasons for the behaviour (Skinner, 1953, 1966). Applied behaviour analysis is the field of helping people change behaviour in meaningful ways and focuses on developing and implementing procedures to assist people with changing their behaviours (Baer, Wolf, & Risley, 1966).
Alcohol has a complex place in Australian society, people drink for many reasons, including the sense of identity and belonging we get from drinking with our friends, as well as its effect as a social lubricant, and many drink at levels that cause little adverse effects (Lewis & Milton, 1992; NHMRC, 2009; Poikotainen, Vartiainen & Korhonen, 1996). Many Australians drink at high levels, and increased risk of alcohol related harm; and alcohol causes a considerable burden of death, disease and injury, and affects the drinkers, their families, bystanders, and the broader community (NHMRC, 2009). According to the AIHW (2013), low risk consumption is up to 28 standard drinks per week for males (14 for females), risky is 29 to 42 (15-28), and high risk is 43 or more (29 or more).
Current addiction models suggest that alcohol abusers’ high level cognitive functioning is reduced and they exhibit increased impulsivity and limited inhibition with regards to drives and behaviours; these models also suggest that alcohol- related stimuli will acquire incentive-motivational properties, most probably through classical conditioning, and increase cravings and compulsive alcohol seeking behaviours Cox, Fadardi & Pothos, 2006; Cox & Klinger, 1988, 1990, 2004; Cox, Klinger & Fadardi, 2006; Field & Cox, 2008). Furthermore, alcohol dependent users show increased physiological arousal and subjective cravings when exposed to the sight and smell of alcohol-related stimuli; and alcohol abusers preferentially and automatically process, detect, and orient their attention to alcohol-related stimuli (Carter & Tiffany, 1999; Field & Cox, 2008). Many researchers also report a reciprocal connection between attentional biases and the subjective cravings (Franken, 2003; Ryan, 2002; Field & Cox, 2008).
The present study aimed to determine the effectiveness of a single case intervention program to reduce the excessive drinking habits of an Australian male focused on extinguishing attentional biases to alcohol-related stimuli. The risk classification from the AIHW (2013) was used to measure the target behaviour at baseline and post-test and the Alcohol Abstinence Self-Efficacy Scale (AASE; DiClemente et al., 1994) was used to measure reactivity to alcohol-related cues. It was hypothesised that the subject would decrease their reactivity to alcohol-related stimuli, and furthermore it was