Page 5 of 8
Bradizza and Stasiewkz (2009) describe different models that utilise either classical and operant conditioning, or both, to help try and explain why, despite obvious negative effects from excessive substances use, individuals persist with their consumption. In the Conditioned Withdrawal Model, the environment (drug cues) becomes associated with the withdrawal symptoms through classical conditioning. The conditioned environmental cues, over time, begin to evoke withdrawal-type symptoms, and this then serves as a stimulus that motivates the individual to escape the symptoms through compulsive substance use. This model supports evidence for cravings to be correlated with the magnitude of previous withdrawal experiences (Bradizza & Stasiewkz, 2009).
The Appetitive Operant Conditioning Model considers that an addiction to a substance is a result of deficiencies within the environment and not because of pathologies within the individual. When there are few or inadequate sources for positive reinforcements in the natural environment, individuals will seek rewards through other things like substances. The strength of the reinforcement from the substance is inversely proportional to the reinforcement from other environmental rewards: the reward from substances will be strong if other environmental rewards are weak. It has been demonstrated that drug use can be decreased by providing individuals with alternative behaviours that are not compatible with drug use behaviour (Bradizza & Stasiewkz, 2009).