Can Drug Addiction be Cured by Manipulating the Memory?: A Literature Review of Memory-Based Treatments

  • Maja Paloma Völker Maastricht University
Keywords: memory, drug addiction, reconsolidation, retrieval, EMDR


Drug addiction constitutes a major health problem in modern society. Most of the current treatments have demonstrated limited effectiveness in long-lasting treatment results because of focusing on acute symptoms of the illness while neglecting important factors that maintain addiction. Memory manipulation therapies appear to be a promising alternative that act on maintaining mechanisms. This review paper first investigates memory-related processes that cause substance dependence. Additionally, several findings regarding the effects of memory manipulation are summarized. The reviewed studies suggest that targeting maladaptive drug memories is a promising therapy approach that seems to prevent relapse. Three types of memory manipulation treatment are reviewed; namely extinction training, reconsolidation therapy and eye movement desensitization reprocessing. Finally, the paper concludes with the implications for the treatment of addiction using the described approaches to adapt drug-related memories.

Author Biography

Maja Paloma Völker, Maastricht University
3rd year Psycholoy Bachelor student, FPN


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