Exposure-Response Therapy Showing Positive Results

 A New York addiction-treatment provider is seeing positive results using Exposure Response Prevention (ERP) therapy as part of its treatment regimen.
SLS Health in Brewster, has been using the behavioural therapy with a portion of its clients. “We’ve taken the principles of desensitisation and brought it to [illicit] drug and alcohol treatment,” said Robert DeLetis, senior addiction counsellor.  The therapy exposes individuals to alcohol and the other drugs to which they are addicted, to teach them how to deal with their cravings.
“The exposure to these catalysts elicits powerful cravings that the addict is taught how to handle without giving in to them,” said Joseph Santoro, Ph.D., chief operating officer, “in this way, they are exposed to their triggers but prevented from getting high.  This leads to the extinction of their desire to use.”
An internal study found that ERP is having a positive impact when used in conjunction with standard treatment, such as 12-step meetings, cognitive and group therapy, and medication.
For the study, 57 patients, 33 of whom received ERP, were contacted one to two years after completion of treatment.  The study found that those who participated in ERP had a 55% relapse rate, compared to 88% who did not receive the therapy.

Source: Alcoholism & Drug Abuse Weekly. January 2002
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