Negative Reinforcement Theory
Like positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement increases the likelihood that a behavior associated with it will be continued. However, a negative reinforcer is an unpleasant stimulus that is removed after a behavioral response. Negative reinforcers can range from uncomfortable physical sensations to actions causing severe physical distress. Taking drug to relieve the withdrawal distress is, arguably, an example of negative reinforcement. If a person’s withdrawal syndrome (stimulus) goes away after taking drug (behavior), then it is likely that the person will seek for drug as soon as the first withdrawal discomfort will appear in the future.