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Pavlov J Biol Sci. 1976 Oct-Dec;11(4):195-202.

Conditioning in human opiate addicts.


Eight volunteers maintained on daily methadone participated in a classical conditioning procedure to determine which if any of the elements of narcotic withdrawal could be conditioned; The unconditioned stimulus was the injection of a small dose of naloxone. The unconditioned response was a brief precipitated withdrawal syndrome. The conditioning stimulus was a tone, odor, and injection of saline. Conditioning was successful in the pilot study in 5 of 8 subjects. The conditioned response consisted of tearing, yawning, lacrimation, systolic blood pressure increase, respiratory irregularities and subjective feelings of narcotic withdrawal sickness (nausea, muscle aches, chills). A second group of 8 subjects showed, in addition to the above, evidence of conditioning of heart rate, respiratory rate, respiratory, rate and skin temperature decrease. These laboratory findings support the clinical reports of a conditioned withdrawal syndrome and suggest ways to improve treatment results by detecting and extinguishing or modifying conditioned responses.

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