The application of social learning theory to reduce alcohol and drug use
Andes, Fred Uhler
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Social learning theory conceptualizes alcoholism, drug addiction, and other addictive disorders as learned habits rather than as addictive diseases. Proponents of this theory contend that addictive disorders are habits which could be changed through the acquisition (i.e., learning) of appropriate behavioral and cognitive coping skills as alternatives to these addictive habits.;The study evaluated the effectiveness of a single 3-hour workshop to reduce alcohol and drug use by teaching subjects social learning theory-based skills (relaxation exercises and cognitive restructuring) as alternatives to alcohol and drug use. Fifty-eight subjects completed the study in an outpatient setting. The majority (85 percent) of subjects were involuntary clients, mandated to attend substance abuse treatment by the criminal justice system (probation, parole, and courts) and the New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services. Each subject received an individual assessment prior to the workshop to ascertain his/her suitability.;Subjects were randomly assigned to three groups: experimental group and two control groups (discussion-only, and waiting-list). Experimental group subjects were taught coping skills using modeling, role-play and feedback. Discussion-Only group subjects were presented with the same information but without the use of modeling, role-play and feedback. Waiting-List group subjects were placed on a waiting-list for three months. Subjects were evaluated after 3 months on the following measures based on the Addiction Severity Index: alcohol use, drug use, employment, legal, and family/social relationship.;Experimental group subjects showed a significant improvement between pretest and 3-month follow-up on two measures: alcohol use, and drug use. There were no significant improvement on the other three measures: employment, legal, and family/social relationship. Both control groups had no significant improvement between pretest and 3-month follow-up on all five outcome measures.