Behavioral assessment of narcotic detoxification fear

James M. Raczynski, Deborah J. Wiebe, Jesse B. Milby, Robin H. Gurwitch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Recent data reveal that only a small number of opioid addicts who attempt to detoxify from methadone maintenance programs will be successful. An irrational fear of detoxification has been postulated to be one reason for detoxification not being more efficacious. The present investigation attempted to assess both self-report and psychophysiological responses to detoxification and neutral scenes in two groups of persons on methadone maintenance. The two groups (N = 8 each) were selected by two blind interviewers as either having or not having a detoxification fear. After imagery training, subjects were asked to imagine 10 scenes, alternating between neutral and detoxification scenes with random counterbalancing for order, while the psychophysiological dependent measures and self-report anxiety and clarity ratings were assessed. Some of the self-report and psychophysiological measures were significantly different for scene type, indicating a successful manipulation of scene imagery. Further, pulse volume measures indicated greater activation in the fear group than in the non-fear group to the detoxification scenes. The results are discussed in terms of providing evidence for greater activation, presumably due to greater anxiety, for the detoxification fear subjects than the non-fear subjects specific to the detoxification imagery and in terms of potential treatment implications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)165-169
Number of pages5
JournalAddictive Behaviors
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1988

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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