Talking Point: “Pushing away your poison”: using cognitive training to improve client outcomes in addiction treatment


Have you been hearing about increases in alcohol use since Covid-19 lockdowns and wondering how we break the habit? Ever found yourself on ‘auto-pilot’ reaching for the fridge and grabbing a beer before really deciding to have an alcoholic drink?

Come along to this talk and learn about a new type of brain-training that addresses the subconscious drivers of addictive behaviours, called cognitive bias modification (CBM). Join us to hear about the launch of a brand-new, personalised-CBM smartphone app designed to reduced alcohol craving and consumption that Turning Point & Monash researchers are about to trial.

This talk will provide an overview of the different types of cognitive training and will review the latest evidence for their efficacy in improving targeted cognitive processes and outcomes of relevance to alcohol and drug use disorders. I will focus heavily on cognitive bias modification (CBM) which has shown the most consistent positive effects in terms of reducing relapse among those seeking treatment for substance use disorders. I will present findings from a series of CBM studies conducted at Turning Point, where we have found ‘approach-avoidance’ training to be an effective adjunctive intervention during AOD withdrawal treatment. Importantly, the presentation will highlight priorities for future research efforts needed to bridge the neuroscience-practice gap, and examine how cognitive training might complement existing biological, psychological and social approaches aiding recovery from addiction.


Victoria Manning is an Professor in Addictions at Monash University and the Head of Research and Workforce Development. Over the past two decades she has worked as a clinical researcher in addictions in the UK, Asia and Australia.

Her research portfolio includes clinical trials, intervention studies, training and prevalence studies and treatment outcome studies. She holds a PhD in addiction neuropsychology and has developed a program of cognitive training research since joining Turning Point, which will be the focus of this presentation.

More information

The SWiPE Trial
Assessing the feasibility and acceptability of a mobile based app to help people drink less alcohol and on fewer days.

Alcohol Use and COVID-19 Resource
National polling has demonstrated that alcohol sales and use have increased in Australia during COVID-19.