Addiction Essay

2511 words - 11 pages

To read up on models of addictive behaviour, refer to pages 609–618 of Eysenck’s A2 Level Psychology.
Ask yourself
* Is there a biological basis to addictive behaviour?
* Can somebody learn to be an addict?
* How might explanations of addiction differ for different addictions?
What you need to know
* Biological, behavioural (learning), and cognitive models of addictive behaviour  | * Biological, behavioural (learning), and cognitive explanations for initiation, maintenance, and relapse * Specific explanations of particular addictions including smoking and ...view middle of the document...

The individual is an information processor and it is a breakdown in cognitive processing that causes the addiction. Irrational, obsessive, and faulty thinking can affect emotion and behaviour. Thus, according to this model, faulty thinking and errors in decision making are considered to be the causes of addiction.
Biological explanations of addictive behaviour
The biological explanation can explain chemical addictions such as nicotine more easily than addictions such as gambling. Biological explanations of addiction focus on neurotransmitters in the brain, and on genetic differences between people with addictions and people without addictions.
* The neurotransmitter dopamine and other brain biochemicals have been linked to addictions, both chemical addition (drug addiction) and behaviours such as gambling and videogame playing (Potenza, 2001, see A2 Level Psychology page 611). High levels of dopamine are experienced as rewarding, which is why the addiction is initially enjoyed and maintained. See the bullet point below on reinforcement.
* Some family studies suggest a link between addictive behaviour and personality traits. For example, a study of monozygotic and dizygotic twins found a connection between genetics and the characteristics of anti-social personality (including attention seeking, not following social norms, and violence) and between these personality characteristics and alcoholism (Jang, Vernon, & Livesley, 2000, see A2 Level Psychology page 612). Similar findings have also been found for behavioural addictions such as gambling addiction (Comings et al., 1996, see A2 Level Psychology page 612).
* Genetics analysis looks for common genes in people with addictive behaviour compared to control groups without such behaviour.
* The biological explanation overlaps with the behavioural explanation (see below) when we look at reinforcement, which explains that the addiction is in some way rewarding. One way in which reinforcement could be obtained may be biological because there are “pleasure centres” in the brain (Olds & Milner, 1954, see A2 Level Psychology page 612). The “pleasure centres” could be activated as a result of the addiction; in this way the reward pathways in the brain are excited. This interlinks with dopamine since usually high levels of dopamine form part of these pathways.
* A study of over 300 monozygotic (identical) twins and just under 200 same-sex dizygotic (fraternal) twins was used to estimated the contribution of genetic factors and environmental factors to substance use in adolescence. The conclusion was that the major influences on the decision to use substances were environmental rather than genetic (Han et al., 1999, see A2 Level Psychology page 611)
Evaluation of biological explanations
* Separating out the effects of addiction....

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