More threads by ephemeral1

I'm wondering if self-administered aversion therapy would be successful in eliminating internet addictions. I'm thinking a low dosage of ipecac and then going online and surfing while the nausea works through.

Has it been tried? Anybody heard of any studies of self-administered aversion?


Anybody heard of any studies of self-administered aversion?

I don't but others on the Forum may have some input on self administered aversion therapy.

Aversion therapy is used to help people overcome certain behaviours. The behaviors that have been treated with aversion therapy include such addictions as alcohol abuse, drug abuse, and smoking; pathological gambling; sexual deviations.

It should be mentioned that ipecac is not a benign substance without risks.

Ipecac irritates the stomach and stimulates the vomiting center of the brain to cause vomiting. This medication is used to empty the stomach to treat certain poisonings or drug overdoses.

SIDE EFFECTS: In addition to the expected effect of vomiting, this medication may cause drowsiness, diarrhea, and stomach ache.

Ipecac syrup has been abused by bulimic and anorexic patients as a means to lose weight. This medication causes severe heart problems and has even resulted in death in persons with eating disorders who use this regularly to cause vomiting.

Knowing what we know about ipecac, it would seem there are more positive strategies to accomplish what you want to do, using positive reinforcement as opposed to using an unpleasant (aversive) stimulus.

Is this for yourself or for someone close to you? Have you considered consulting a qualified therapist who could provide you with less invasive strategies?

  • Aversion therapy is a form of behavior therapy in which an aversive (causing a strong feeling of dislike or disgust) stimulus is paired with an undesirable behavior in order to reduce or eliminate that behavior
Activated charcoal mitigates the effects of the ipecac somewhat. The ipecac would be the emetic to generate nausea. Any better options?

How would you suggest using positive reinforcement to eliminate internet addiction?

This question is generated by some of the reading I'm doing as part of a Psychology of Learning course.

Daniel E.
Definitely do NOT use ipecac for internet addiction. That is not a safe use of ipecac.
Can you elaborate a little? Why would ipecac not be useful as an emetic. There have already been aversion therapy studies done using emetics and ipecac seems to be the standard.

Daniel E.
1. For one thing, any use of ipecac needs to be medically supervised, and I can't imagine any good professional doctor approving such use for internet addiction, even in a clinical study.

2. The studies on ipecac I have seen were only for alcoholism, which is far more of a health risk than internet addiction, which is very common and is very treatable with therapy.

Anyway, you may want to listen to Dr. Baxter's brief interview on the topic of Internet Addiction here:

(Dr. Baxter appears sometime after the 3-minute mark of the above clip.)

You can also read the old posts in this forum on the subject:
My question isn't so much about the internet addication as about seld-administered aversion therapy. Ipecac is an over the counter emetic fouund in most homes.

Perhaps I should have phrased my question better. Is self-administered aversion therapy effective. Ipecac would be the aversive uncontrolled stimulus. Have there been any studies of this nature.

Daniel E.
My question isn't so much about the internet addication as about seld-administered aversion therapy. Ipecac is an over the counter emetic fouund in most homes.

Most people don't have ipecac at home, and the American Pediatric Association actually advises against parents having it at home:

Although it seems to make sense to induce vomiting after the ingestion of a potentially poisonous substance, it was never proven to be effective in preventing poisoning. Recent research has failed to show benefit for children who were treated with ipecac. This is the key reason for this policy change.

It is also important to note that poisoning deaths have dropped dramatically over the last 50 years and that most emergency rooms have stopped using the drug in favor of the more effective activated charcoal. Research has shown that ipecac medication has been improperly administered by parents, and has been abused by people with eating disorders such as bulimia. In rare cases, ipecac was used abusively by parents or caregivers with Munchausen syndrome by proxy (a type of child abuse). Abuse of ipecac can lead to heart problems and even death.


Though it is available without a prescription, that doesn't mean it's safe to use for one's own purposes. Even during an emergency, it is advisable to call Poison Control before taking ipecac to see if induction of vomiting is a good idea or not and to get the right dosage.

A better question would be: Why do use the Internet as an escape, e.g. do you have untreated depression or stress/anxiety or problems at work? Do you have problems socializing with others? Why are you reluctant to get the most effective treatment for internet addiction, i.e. therapy?
Good golly! This is a psychology forum and I'm asking a psychology question about conditioning. Please disregard the ipecac issue!!!

The question is about self administered aversive conditioning. So far, the only aversive conditioning discussed is the US of posting in this forum.

Daniel E.
Please disregard the ipecac issue!!!

OK, gladly. Part of the reason it's a hot topic is because some people who have eating disorders abuse ipecac, and I never know who I'm dealing with on an internet forum.

Regarding aversion therapy, it's not effective with internet addiction because you really aren't treating the underlying causes. For example, with porn addiction, people will sometimes use software that will e-mail their friend if they go to a porn website. In this case, the aversion is shame. However, people aren't stupid. They will just shut off the software.

Effective treatment is more about identifying and dealing with what one is avoiding in life that makes internet addiction/compulsion an attractive escape:

You cannot understand or treat or change the behavior simply by considering what it is you are going to when you engage in this behavior -- you must also consider what it is you are "leaving behind" or avoiding or postponing. The behavior in itself is an escape from reality and has its own very powerful short-term rewards, but what really maintains the behavior and makes it so difficult to "quit" is what it gets you away from: work stress, financial stress, relationship or family problems, whatever it is for you. If you don't address those issues, you will not fully understand what drives and maintains the behavior.

Personally, I am more likely to overuse the Internet when it's time for me to do something I dislike, like cleaning the house. My personal workaround is having very loud speakers or using my MP3 player and listening to audio books, etc. while I clean the house. This way, the Internet has been relegated to a harmless behavior, like listening to the radio.

Anybody heard of any studies of self-administered aversion?

Antabuse for alcoholism may or may be considered self-administered.
Last edited:
Why assume that the internet addiction is escapism? Thus far, my text has led me to believe that pornography type addiction is conditioned behavior, and I would think herefore susceptible to reversal through further conditioning (like aversion therapy).


Welcome to psychlinks, Ephemeral1. We are not professionals and cannot advise on what or how to treat your internet addiction. We have given you our thoughts on the topic including the treatment that Dr Baxter uses for this kind of problem.

Please seek further answers about how to help yourself by using professional advice. At least then you will know what all of your options are and be able to choose the one that suits you best.

Good luck with this.
Last edited:

Daniel E.
...I would think herefore susceptible to reversal through further conditioning (like aversion therapy).

One thing I used to do to deal with overusing TV was I just unplugged the TV and stored it in my closet. I watched less TV that way but then I spent more time on the Internet. So the basic, compulsive behavior was still there, just in another form.

In computer science (which is what my degree is in), there are a lot of different ways to solve the same problem, but some ways are better than others and are easier to maintain over the long-term. I think aversion therapy is a very short term solution to a very long-term issue since computers are everywhere -- at school, at work, at home, etc.



Good golly! This is a psychology forum and I'm asking a psychology question about conditioning

Don't be too hard on us this week, as we are all volunteers with a keen interest in providing support and information to the best of our capability.

Our Forum leader and the owner of Psychlinks, Dr. David Baxter is in hospital at the moment, and I sense the question you are asking would require his expertise.

This question is generated by some of the reading I'm doing as part of a Psychology of Learning course

Your question is a good one and deserves a technical response, which I am sure you will receive on the return of Dr. Baxter.

Ipecac is an over the counter emetic fouund in most homes.
Please disregard the ipecac issue!!!

OK, we'll drop that part of the discussion, but I would suggest that the ipecac is not likely found in most homes in 2007. Manufacturers of OTC products (such as cough prepparations) which contained the ingredient several years ago have removed it from most formulations.
Interesting. One of the premises in the text is that porn addiction is a learned/controlled response. That being the case, why would there be an assumption that there was an underlying cause?

If there is no underlying cause, then the addiction ought to be able to be unlearned through therapy.

Daniel E.
One of the premises in the text is that porn addiction is a learned/controlled response. That being the case, why would there be an assumption that there was an underlying cause?

Let's look at Japan. Japan is a country with a lot of Internet addicts, probably more so than the US on a percentage basis. Now, if you just focus on the Internet addiction, you don't see what's really going on:

Japan has the highest suicide rate and lowest birthrate of all industrialized countries and a rising incidence of untreated cases of depression. Even more troubling are the more than one million young men who shut themselves in their rooms ("hikikomori"), withdrawing from society, and the growing numbers of "parasite singles," the name given to single women who refuse to leave home, marry, or bear children.

So the point is that Internet addiction is more of a symptom of a bigger problem. The experts I have read speak of Internet addiction as an avoidance behavior, i.e. an escape from real-world problems and issues. Therefore, the treatment needs to be specific to what one is avoiding:

Maressa Hecht Orzack, director of the Computer Addiction Study Center at McLean Hospital in Massachusetts:

Treatment is very, very specific. There are two things that can happen, if a person is extremely disturbed or depressed, I will see if they need something prescribed. I do what is called cognitive therapy, which is that their emotions are determined by their thoughts, and this is somebody who is really anxious or afraid that something is going to happen.

It might be somebody who is anxious, or a perfectionist, or they're afraid they can't get their work done, so they jump to something else. We talk about what is really going on in your head -- what are your thoughts? What is really going on? I've heard this from many people -- it's called "all or nothing" thinking, that no matter what they do, they won't get ahead. It's something that's very unfortunate. They may insist that everything is going to be bad.

So we try to figure out how they can change those thoughts. I say, how far have you gotten in school? How can you be a a failure if you're in grad school? People tend to disqualify the positive, and we try to turn that around. And then we do something called motivational interviewing, talking about alternatives, things that will help them. We create contracts that will give them specific things to do, read a chapter in a book that relates to their problems, for instance. We try to get them to confront what they are trying to avoid and come to terms with their expectations. People often feel hopeless, and there are things that are upsetting to them, and they need techniques to help them. These are not short-term things.
OK, good info all, but I am still curious about the use of an emetic or some other aversive US in a self-administered therapy. Perhaps to counter a TV or hobby addiction.

This is not a treatment for myself. As I said, I am taking a Psychology of Learning course and it struck me wondering why some aaversion conditioning couldn't be used to counter some forms of addictive behavior.

This will be the topic for my final paperas it occurs to me that there are probably many people who struggle with addicitve behavior, which may be learned. Out of that subset of people, how many would be intent on avoiding the perceived stigma of engaging in psychiatric counseling? Do you see where I'm going?

I'm also thinking that the emetic would serve as both a contingent and contiguous US and as such have a greater chance of associative aversion response.

I'm getting more and more interested in this as I learn...

BTW, a pretty good article that gives a brief historical perspective of how the unsuccesses of aversion therapy helped researchers focus more on underlying stressors that contribute to addiction relapse:

url deleted as the forum coding won't let me post it until I hit 10...

Interesting, but it seems like one of the key elements in preventing relapse is conditioning through provision of positive stimulus. It's still conditioning, but seems to be getting more study.
Last edited:

Are just a couple of sites which show that aversion therapy does work in some cases. They also got me thinking that ammonia capsules might be a good CS.
Replying is not possible. This forum is only available as an archive.