Cue Extinction

Cue Extinction is a relapse prevention technique that when incorporated into a comprehensive relapse prevention program has been found to be effective in supporting clients to maintain recovery. The Cue Extinction program teaches techniques that help clients reduce their craving for drugs, even when confronted with the situations and stimuli that triggered the urge in the past. It can be used effectively on an outpatient as well as in a controlled residential program.

How does Cue Extinction work?

Cue Extinction teaches clients coping mechanisms to reduce cravings and urges to use drugs. It can be used effectively on an outpatient as well as in a controlled residential program.

Cue Extinction simulates a temporary craving for drugs by having clients recall and describe situations that have made them want to use drugs in the past. By repeatedly exposing clients to their own personal triggers, and teaching them tools for dealing with the cravings that arise from these triggers without letting them resort to using drugs, the program causes cravings gradually to weaken and possibly even disappear.

Why is this relapse prevention approach recommended over others?

A variety of relapse prevention approaches are currently in use around the country. Among them are approaches based on cognitive behavioral, social support, 12 step, lifestyle change, cure extinction and pharmacotherapeutic techniques.

The Cue Extinction approach was chosen because careful scientific testing have proven that it works; it helps  recovering persons stay off drugs. Treatment programs that are committed to approaches such as NA and AA will find that the two approaches recommended here are compatible with them.

Cue extinction approach has been shown to improve retention rates in treatment for cocaine addicts.

Materials to Support the Transfer and Maintenance of Learning in the Workplace.

Participants attending the workshop receive the support materials listed below. These materials are valuable resources that will help treatment programs successfully implement and maintain the approaches.  

An Introduction to Relapse Prevention, which discusses the nature and causes of relapse, gives reason for doing relapse prevention, and describes the two tested relapse prevention approaches.

Cue Extinction Administrator Manual; The administrator guide for Cue Extinction discuss administrative and planning issues that program managers interested in adding relapse prevention to their programs should consider. These issues include staff training, fitting relapse prevention into the limited time most programs have to work with clients, and adjusting the model to fit specific program philosophies.

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Cue Extinction Handouts; The Six Cue Extinction Tool Scripts, Identifying Urges and Triggers Script, Coping With Craving Ratiing Forms, and Urge and Craving Management Log.

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