Effects of extinction context and retrieval cues on alcohol cue reactivity among nonalcoholic drinkers

J Consult Clin Psychol. 2002 Apr;70(2):390-7.


Pavlovian conditioning models have influenced the development of cue exposure treatments for drug abuse. However, poor maintenance of extinction performance (renewal) after treatment is a common problem. A treatment-analogue experiment tested the role of context in renewal, as well as a potential strategy for reducing renewal. Seventy-eight social drinkers completed extinction trials to reduce saliva and urge reactivity to alcohol cues and were randomly assigned to a renewal test in either the same context as extinction, a different context, or the different context containing a cue from the extinction context (E-cue). As predicted, the different context produced greater renewal than the same context and renewal was attenuated when the E-cue was present. These results offer preliminary evidence for the context dependence of extinction to alcohol cues and for the use of an extinction cue to improve the generalizability of exposure therapies.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / prevention & control
  • Alcohol Drinking / psychology*
  • Alcoholism / psychology
  • Alcoholism / rehabilitation
  • Arousal
  • Association Learning
  • Conditioning, Classical*
  • Cues*
  • Desensitization, Psychologic
  • Extinction, Psychological*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Recall*
  • Social Environment