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Open Access EMDR Reprocessing of the Addiction Memory: Pretreatment, Posttreatment, and 1-Month Follow-Up

This randomized controlled study investigated the effects of eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) in the treatment of alcohol dependency. EMDR was applied to reprocess the addiction memory (AM) in chronically dependent patients. The AM includes memories of preparatory behavior, drug effects (drug use), and loss of control (Wolffgramm, 2002). It is understood to involve extensive brain circuitry, drive part of conscious and unconscious craving, change environmental response at an organic level, and modify circuits that link to feelings of satisfaction, future planning, and hope. Thirty-four patients with chronic alcohol dependency were randomly assigned to one of two treatment conditions: treatment as usual (TAU) or TAU plus two sessions of EMDR (TAU+EMDR). The craving for alcohol was measured by the Obsessive–Compulsive Drinking Scale (OCDS) pre-, post-, and 1 month after treatment. The TAU+EMDR group showed a significant reduction in craving posttreatment and 1 month after treatment, whereas TAU did not. Results indicate that EMDR might be a useful approach for the treatment of addiction memory and associated symptoms of craving.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2008

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