The Psychological Aspect of Addiction

The brain disease model of addiction posits that an individual’s exposure to an addictive drug is the most significant environmental risk factor for addiction. However, many researchers, including neuroscientists, indicate that the brain disease model presents a misleading, incomplete, and potentially detrimental explanation of addiction. These studies suggest that the nucleus accumbens codes different reinforcers in a similar way, but on different neurons.

Drug addiction is more common in environments where drug abuse is seen or where it's seen as permissible. Children who grow up in homes with drug addicts often become drug addicts themselves. Internationally, the United States and Eastern Europe contain the countries with the highest substance abuse disorder occurrence (5%-6%). Africa, Asia, and the Middle East contain countries with the lowest worldwide occurrence (1%-2%). Across the globe, those that tended to have a higher prevalence of substance dependence were in their twenties, unemployed, and male.

These studies rarely identify genes from proteins previously described via animal-knockout models and candidate-gene analysis. Instead, large percentages of genes involved in processes such as cell adhesion are commonly identified. SUD may also exacerbate symptoms of other mental disorders, and early drug use is a strong risk factor for the later development of substance use disorders. It is to be noted that for both alcohol and drugs, dependence is less than half as common as abuse. However the terms “drug abuse” and “drug dependence” are not used in the DSM-IV or the other widely used classification system, the International Statistical Classification of Diseases . Behavioral scientists have much to offer neuroscientists, and drug addiction might be an appropriate place for these two disciplines to meet.

A study of 900 court cases involving children who experienced abuse found that a vast amount of them went on to suffer from some form of addiction in their adolescence or adult life. This pathway towards addiction, which is opened through stressful experiences during childhood, can be avoided by a change in environmental factors throughout an individual’s life more about alcohol addiction and abuse and opportunities of professional help. If one has friends or peers who engage in drug use favorably, the chances of them developing an addiction increases. Family conflict and home management may also lead to alcohol or other drug use. Behaviorists explain drug use and addiction by emphasizing the way that these behaviors are learned or habitualized.

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On Mentalhub’s pages you can find tips regarding self care among other things. The service can be used by anyone and you can search for help for yourself or someone close to you. You can contact the Finnish Student Health Service, FSHS, if you are not feeling mentally well or worried about your alcohol or drug use. needs to review the security of your connection before proceeding. Is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted. Even young children have been shown to develop both positive and negative expectancies about the outcomes of drinking alcohol (Donovan, Molina, & Kelly, 2009).

drug abuse psychology

Often, people in addiction treatment centers are recovering from experiencing an endless cycle of guilt, emotional pain, and short-term relief from substances. This negative feedback loop can eventually lead to mental health issues and other side effects. As an addicted person needs an increasing amount of their substance of choice to get the same high, they become more and more preoccupied with procuring and using substances. To the sufferer, friends, family, work, and being an upstanding citizen become less important than inebriation. More importantly, the cause and effects of drug addiction create new mental health issues that can affect the user and the social network around them. When you’re experiencing psychological addiction, your thoughts may be consumed with when you’ll use drugs or alcohol again, or how you’ll get more of the substance you’re abusing.

The lifetime prevalence of prescription drug addictions is currently around 4.7%. While their findings for most demographic categories were similar to the national findings by NSDUH, they had different results for racial/ethnic groups that varied by sub-regions. Overall, Whites were the demographic with the largest admission rate (83%), while Alaskan Native, American Indian, Pacific Islander, and Asian populations had the lowest admissions (1.8%). Genome-wide association studies are used to examine genetic associations with dependence, addiction, and drug use. These studies employ an unbiased approach to finding genetic associations with specific phenotypes and give equal weight to all regions of DNA, including those with no ostensible relationship to drug metabolism or response.

Drug Addiction as a Behavoral Disorder

In asking if addiction is really a disease,Psychology Todayargues that as much as the battle is fought in the brain, substance addiction is not Alzheimer’s disease; as much as the patient’s body changes and symptoms are beyond control, addiction is not cancer. There’s a stigma attached to addiction in society, and there’s a lot of guilt and shame for the individuals who struggle with the condition. People with substance use disorders tend to evaluate themselves negatively on a regular basis, which is a habit that has its roots in childhood experiences. Additionally, many addicts experience anxiety around trying to hide their habits from other people. In a lot of cases, it’s difficult to tell whether anxious people are more likely to abuse substances or if illicit drugs and alcohol cause anxiety. Conditions such as depression, anxiety, attention deficit disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder increase the risk of addiction.

A characteristic of each is that initial exposure to a reinforcing stimulus (e.g., euphoria, food, money) is followed by a progressive escalation in the behavior that produced it. Behavior that results in the availability of these reinforcers may eventually dominate the behavioral repertoire simply because these stimuli function as more potent reinforcers than others available in an individual's environment. This may be due, in part, to genetic predispositions or, more likely, to particular learning histories combined with relatively easy access to these reinforcers (i.e., a high rate of reinforcement) and insufficient contact with alternative sources of reinforcement. Addiction can express itself in numerous different ways and look different in every person that is affected by it.

drug abuse psychology

At the root of addictive behavior is some form of emotional stress, an issue that is so deeply buried within the person’s subconscious mind that addressing it is too overwhelming or unfathomable a challenge. To ease the stress, to make it go away, pleasure is found in excess; the fun of a drunken night out or the thrill of making an expensive bet. Achieving a master’s degree and other high-level certifications will open the door for a variety of career opportunities and equip you with the in-depth knowledge it takes to excel in the field of substance abuse psychology.

The required amount of education prior to earning a certificate or degree also varies. The American Psychological Association is a professional psychological organization and is the largest association of psychologists in the United States. Over 100,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, and students support the association through their membership. Their mission "is to advance the creation, communication and application of psychological knowledge pharmacologic management of alcohol dependence to benefit society and improve people's lives." Born in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1941, he spent his professional career as an addiction psychologist, researcher, and director of the University of Washington's Addictive Behaviors Research Center and professor in the Department of Psychology. Marlatt adopted the theory of harm reduction, and developed and scientifically tested ways to prevent an addict's slip from becoming a relapse.

When the food delivery was signaled, the dopamine cells ceased to respond to the food delivery, and responded instead to the predicting signal. It is in the various parts of this reward circuit anatomy and its connection with motor circuitry where neuroscientists look for brain changes that reflect reinforced behavior. Thus, a cortical-striatal-pallidal-thalamic-cortical circuit can be described in the emotional areas of the brain. The cortical areas are different from those involved in motor control and sensory input; the striatal and pallidal areas typically are located more ventrally, have considerable non-cortical input, and a distinct thalamic nucleus is involved. Nevertheless, this circuit has parallels with other primary circuits in the brain (Alexander et al., 1986; Heimer, 2003).

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In a variation of the task, the magnitude or type (preferred vs. nonpreferred) of reinforcer was signaled. Neurons that fired during various aspects of this task were recorded and described. The consumption of addictive substances, alcohol withdrawal symptoms causes, timeline & treatment such as alcohol, opioids, cocaine, and cannabis, has been traced back to ancient history of Syria, China, and South America. During this time period, addiction was defined as being compelled to act out any number of bad habits.

  • The association areas of the brain also may be connected in several circuits that run somewhat parallel to the input and output circuits.
  • In summary, electrophysiologists are becoming more interested in searching for neural correlates of choice behavior, and their experimental designs and techniques are becoming more sophisticated.
  • What is interesting and somewhat distressing for behavioral scientists is how little behavior is regarded in much of this research.
  • When we understand the intermediary traits that indicate risk, we can work on curbing potential problems and channeling those dispositions for good.

Most smokers are fully aware that smoking is risky and dangerous, and any benefits are fleeting at best; yet, they compulsively continue their smoking in a long-term fashion. Ceasing the behavior threatens to return thoughts to whatever that source of emotional stress is; the presence of addictive behavior suggests that there are no healthy coping mechanisms for that problem. The only mechanisms in place are distracting and unhealthy ones, like substance use or problematic behavior. AsPsychology Todaysays, “the focus of the addiction isn’t what matters”; what matters is the need to do something when that emotional stress makes itself felt.

The possibility that these behavioral differences were responsible for the different rates of neuronal firing has been considered. The latter investigators subsequently reported that the orbitofrontal cortex seemed to code the magnitude of the reinforcer, firing most rapidly immediately after presentation of the larger-reinforcer cue. Activity of the premotor cortex, in contrast, was more related to motor preparation, arousal, and attention; firing more rapidly just before the trigger stimulus was presented and when the reinforcer was delivered (Roesch & Olson, 2004).


In addition, another peptide, Cdk5, is increased in animals that overexpress deltaFos B, and Cdk5 gene expression also is increased by chronic cocaine administration. Cdk5 may effectively reduce the effects of dopamine that are produced through the D1-like receptors (Benavides & Bibb, 2004). These receptors have some actions that oppose those of the D2-like receptors, and it is the D2-like receptors that have been tied more closely to the stimulating and addictive effects of cocaine.

They suggest that dopamine release may underlie the development of addiction, but that the permanent changes resulting in sensitization and reinstatement involve protein changes that regulate glutamate transmission . Sensitization has only the fact that it is produced by repeated administration of a drug, and is maintained for several weeks or months following drug withdrawal, to recommend it as a model of addiction. This drug-induced increase in locomotion lacks even face validity as an indicator of compulsive drug taking or loss of control of drug-taking behavior. Conditioned place preference probably measures a different process from either reinforcement or sensitization (Bardo & Bevins, 2000), but there is no evidence that this is related to addiction. Reinstatement has good face validity, but has not been shown to have predictive validity as a model of relapse (Katz & Higgins, 2003).

The Study Psychologist helps you with questions regarding study motivation, balancing your studies and free-time and performance anxiety. The Study Psychologist is a licenced and trained professional within the social- and healthcare industry. Hanken offers services of a study coach that can provide tips and tricks in study habits and time management. Hanken also has a student priest that you can speak with about everything from relations to loneliness, faith and doubts. Crystal Raypole has previously worked as a writer and editor for GoodTherapy.

Psychological dependence only

Tremblay L, Schultz W. Relative reward preference in primate orbital frontal cortex. Sugrue L.P, Corrado G.S, Newsome W.T. Matching behavior and the representation of value in the parietal cortex. Herrnstein R.J. Relative and absolute strength of response as a function of frequency of reinforcement. Cromwell H.C, Schultz W. Effects of expectations for different reward magnitudes on neuronal activity in primate striatum. Ahmed S.H, Walker J.R, Koob G.F. Persistent increase in the motivation to take heroin in rats with a history of drug escalation. Relation of thalamus to the more lateral caudate nucleus and globus pallidus.

Inpatient rehabs are substance-free facilities in which patients reside during their recovery process without the distractions of everyday life. These facilities are designed to focus on all aspects of each patients’ addiction. Here they will receive 24/7 medical care as well as emotional support from psychologists, counselors, and psychiatrists. The first step of treatment is medically-assisted detoxification, where the patient's vital signs are monitored while the drugs exit the system. The patient can be given necessary medicine to lessen cravings and withdrawals.

The extended amygdala is a fairly recently described structure that is an important part of this system; it consists of two components. One includes the central amygdaloid nucleus and the lateral bed nucleus of the stria terminalis, and carves a sweeping circuit beneath the main body of the striatum and the globus pallidus. The other consists of the medial amygdaloid nucleus and the medial bed nucleus of the stria terminalis, and travels along with the central component under the lenticular nuclei .

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