Classical Conditioning

     Classical condition is best explained by the famous experiments done by Ivan Pavlov.

Ivan Pavlov

In his experiments, Pavlov would ring a bell just before giving food to dogs.  Eventually, only ringing the bell would cause the animals to salivate, even in the absence of food.  The ringing of the bell is called the neutral stimulus (NS), the salivation due to the presence of food is called the unconditioned response (UR), and the salivation in response only to ringing a bell in the absence of food is called the conditioned response (CR).

    In the case of drug addiction, withdrawal effects need to be present in order for classical conditioning to be a factor.  There needs to be a neutral stimulus attached to the behavior.  For instance the environment, or sensations associated with the behavior.  An unconditioned response would be the compensatory withdrawal reactions of the brain in response to the presence of the drug.  Once the unconditioned response is associated with the neutral stimulus, the presence of that neutral stimulus evokes the conditioned response of the compensatory mechanisms associated with the presence of the drug, while actually in absence of the drug.
    Classical conditioning therefore tells us that the drug addict's withdrawal symptoms can present themselves without the actual presence, or possibility of taking the drug.  Posters containing paraphernalia, or even pictures of drugs can initiate a conditioned response of the withdrawal mechanisms.  This can become overwhelming (consider the physical reasons for addiction) thus throwing the individual into a fit to find the drug, and ease their discomfort.

An Assortment of  Drug Paraphernalia

For More Information on Classical Conditioning: Classical Conditioning

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