Cognitive Bias Modification for Substance Use Disorder Patients

In recent years there has been more and more evidence that people with substance use disorder, including people with severe addiction and alcoholism problems, experience substance-related triggers differently than those without any substance use disorder or addiction issues. People who seek treatment at the best drug rehabs in Florida, such as patients at Florida Springs Wellness and Recovery Center in Panama City, Florida will work on triggers and how to deal with triggers while in rehab for drug and alcohol abuse. In fact, many of the best drug and alcohol rehab and treatment centers in Florida believe it is necessary for patients to have a plan of action around triggers and people, places, and things that have been associated with drug and alcohol use in the past. When people in substance use disorder treatment talk about people, places, and things, it is often a blanket phrase for avoiding those situations which have, in the past, led that specific patient to use drugs or alcohol. Understanding these triggers is considered crucial by the experts at places like Florida Springs, and scientists are uncovering more information about new therapies that could help with this important process.

Today we will look at information from a study at the National Institute of Mental Health in Singapore, which was subsequently published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. The authors state that, “In recent years, advances in experimental psychology have led to a better understanding in automatic, unconscious processes.” In the field of substance use disorder, we can imagine that these automatic and unconscious processes include things like triggers and those “people, places, and things” that we talked about above. The authors of this study hope that recent advances in experimental psychology can help people with addiction and alcoholism disorders and can help experts at the best drug and alcohol rehabs in places like Panama City, Florida.

New Cognitive Bias Study

From the introduction to the study, “For substance use disorders, attentional biases refer to the relatively automatic tendencies for attention to be preferentially allocated towards substance-related cues.” This simply means that triggers will affect people with substance use disorder in drastically different ways than people who do not suffer from addiction or alcoholism. The authors hope that new techniques will help in this respect. The next section that I will quote from is likely the most important, “While, these reviews confirm the existence of biases, and the effectiveness of bias modification, the conduct of cognitive bias modification amongst substance-using individuals is not without its challenges. One of these is that the magnitude of attentional and approach biases is dependent on individual factors.” The authors state that behavioral modification through new experimental methods has indeed been successful, but cognitive biases as it relates to addiction and alcoholism is such that individuals will have varying results, to put it most plainly. Of course, that is my reading of the study, the authors own words are those within the parentheses. But the authors go on to state that they are very hopeful for these new techniques to be applied to people with substance use disorder.

Cognitive Biases in People with Addictions

The researchers state that both severity of physical dependence and the amount of substance that has been used by a person are both connected to the effect that cognitive bias training will have. Cognitive bias training also involves the same treatment regimen being implemented many times over a period of weeks, and therefore patients can suffer from diminishing motivation to continue with treatment. These types of treatments, therefore, might actually be best suited to the best drug and alcohol rehabs, places like Florida Springs in Panama City, Florida, as patients at these treatment centers are specifically there to work on their own addiction and alcoholism issues, and are free from the distractions of their normal lives.

The authors ultimately note that more study must be done. This study seems to suggest that failure to complete treatment is a serious downside for patients they looked at, mainly because of the repetitiveness of cognitive bias training. The authors note that different groups of scientists have discussed gamification of these processes, in other words, making a game of some sort out of the repetitive tasks. Certainly, if gamification could help patients complete treatment, more study should be put into making that a reality. The best drug and alcohol rehabs in Florida, places like Florida Springs Wellness and Recovery Center, could someday be a resource for further study of these exciting new methods of cognitive bias training.

By T.A. Cannon (Contact me at


ZHANG, M. W. B.; SMITH, H. E. Challenges When Evaluating Cognitive Bias Modification Interventions for Substance Use Disorder. International journal of environmental research and public health, [s. l.], v. 17, n. 21, 2020. DOI 10.3390/ijerph17217821. Disponível em: Acesso em: 25 mar. 2021.