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Working on trigger memories could prevent relapse

A study conducted at the University of Cambridge has shown that working on the memory could lead to preventing relapses in addicts.

Scientists believe that they can break down the memory triggers that cause cravings for drugs and alcohol in addicts, thereby making them less likely to relapse.

Studies on rats showed that when an emotional memory related to drink or drug use was treated with medication, it broke the link that could cause cravings.

Addicts will more than likely recognise the certain people, places and things that prompt us to use. The problem is that these triggers are stored at an unconscious level and we find we feel cravings despite our efforts.

Researchers at the Behavioural and Clinical Neuroscience Institute evoked these triggers at a conscious level and then treated them with drugs to extinguish the Pavlovian Trigger-Use response.

Using the beta-blocker Propranolol, scientists found that the rats no longer responded to the cue memory for either cocaine or alcohol.

Of course I would have suspected as much. In therapeutic NLP, we work with breaking down cue memories so that they no longer hold any power over our reactions, hence we are no longer driven to use.

However, in my opinion this will only take care of some of the problem. Breaking links is certainly helpful and may aid with sobriety. But total recovery? Sadly not.

To be recovered and happy you have to do a lot of work on yourself. It’s not just about not drinking or taking drugs, it’s about becoming someone who doesn’t need to take substance in order to be happy. Of course, there are ways and means of doing that too. I use Dialectical Behaviour Therapy with my clients, with great results.

by Beth Burgess, Therapist and author of The Recovery Formula, The Happy Addict, and What Is Self-Esteem?

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