How successful theories of addiction encapsulate aspects of addictive behaviour?

Addiction has been widely explained in psychology literature. Each explanation is linked to the main definition where addiction is an individual, difficult and sometimes unmanageable journey for each person affected with addiction. It is a constant battle where one who tries to change their reality, and in most cases continuously failing to do so.

Over the years, psychologists have defined addiction cautiously.  According to Krivanck (1988), addiction is perceived as a process rather than behaviour and is best described on a variety of severity. Nevertheless, loss of control is subjective and increased by ethical issues, since it suggests a certain level of responsibility and blame. Addicts behave in a particular way, communicating differently and adapting to situations depending on the surroundings and environment in which they find themselves.

This essay will try to find answer on “how prosperous have theories of addiction been and how they sum the characteristics of addictive behaviour”. There are many theories of addiction and each theory explains addictive behaviour in different ways. Over the years, different theories of addictive behaviour have attempted to promote a better understanding of addiction and have helped to change people and their lives.

All these models concentrate on the process of development of the addiction and propose independent explanations of addictive behaviour. They also suggest prevention, intervention and treatment (Leonard & Blane 1998). Supporting evidence is presented in order to evaluate the explanation of addictive behaviour

In order to try to find the best defined theory of Addiction and put all pieces of addictive behaviour together, scientists have divided the theories into five groups. Firstly the addiction as a rational, informed choice based on stable preferences, secondly the concepts of impulse and self-control, thirdly addiction as habit and instrumental learning and finally synthetic theory of motivation.

In order to find the aspects of addictive behaviour in each of the addictive theory models, it is necessary to organise the theories to present a description for the most important and significant science account.

According to Fishbein and Ajzen (1975) Fishbein and  Middlestadt, (1987),  the key difference which marks the Choice Theories are official form of the decision process, theoretical examination and the subject of rationality and irrationality. The preliminary central theme in Choice Theory is the person’s choice of preferences such as desires, tastes, appetites and interests and also people’s attitude towards environmental restriction and possibility. The Choice Theory states that an addict assess all choices and options, which are in highest ranking of his or her desires and beliefs, and therefore takes action (Elster, 1984).

According to Becker and Murphy (1988), Rational Choice theory clearly captures aspects of addictive behaviour. According to this Model addiction is rational and has stable preferences which are desires, tastes, appetites or interests. Rational Choice theory can explain a variety of addictive behaviour. Becker and Murphy (1988) have proposed the ideal theory which is based on rational stable preference of addiction and an addict’s “consistent plan to maximise utility over time”. As indicated by Becker and Murphy (1988), the utility (goods) is an efficient measure of happiness and wellbeing. Becker and Murphy (1988) believed that heroin use is a symptom of other factors for example a negative life event that provides motivation to use heroin. Use of heroin emerges as a rational behaviour of the addict which is consistent with his/her plan to make the most of the utility over time. Becker and Murphy (1998), in one of the research on Vietnam veterans, make use of the traumatic events throughout the war to show an example of how a person can obtain addictive resources. The harrowing events that veterans experience during the war can be seen as growing addictive assets or capital.  This may perhaps be the grounds which trigger the addictive behaviour and shift their consumption of heroin to higher levels. Possibly some of the Vietnam veterans may move forward into one of the “steady state paths”. Maybe some of Vietnam veterans didn’t intensify the addictive capital and did not use the heroin at all. Some people can recover from negative life events faster than others. People try to block the effect of negative live events by using heroin or other drugs. Becker and Murphy’s (1998) model presents the addictive resource as the memory of the negative life events which heroin eliminates and also maintains the addictive capital.

To make some final conclusions on the model of rational heroin use, it will be necessary to present the Akerlof (1991) study of teenage gangs and their connection with drugs.

Someone can illustrate that street gang is primarily gifted with addictive capital, because of the reflection on the circumstances in which they grow up.  Those youth then revolve to crime, drugs and gangs for the reason that they have high levels of addictive resources. Some of them may not have enough addictive resources and this will reduce their involvement. At the same time some will become addicted to heroin and will not be able to break out of the cruel circle of addictive capital. Because of life preference, they will not think about their future or the value of their life. Young gang members do not worry about the consequences of their present actions and that can be one of the reasons why they become addicted. Akerlof (1991) comments on the public health programs and education policy which tend to influence the rates of addiction. He points that such institutions can have an effect on “youth’s rates of time preference”. Here harm reduction policy can be created in order to reduce the cause outcome and consequence of an active heroin addiction on addictive resources and capital (Becker GS, Grossman M, Murphy (1991)).

As the rational choice approach to behaviour is based on individual decisions, it proposes that every decision is made by weighing the advantage and disadvantages of alternative actions. There are some criticisms to this approach that mainly focus on assumptions about how the decisions are made. Critics of the rational choice theory also argue that it may not be correct to assume that individuals act in a consistent manner over a period of time. In general, in spite of criticisms, no approach of comparable generality has yet been developed that offers serious competition to the rational choice theory (Becker, G.S, 1992. page 52).

The next part of the essay will discuss the theory form group of the concept of impulse control and self regulation. The Disease Theory of Addiction (Roizen 1987) is one of the most controversial theories with a long history of research. As Kurtz and Regier take us back to 1975, we are reminded that “”The disease concept provided a new label, and alcohologists saw in it the hope for recruiting a more respectable clientele for treatment” (p. 1425). Towards the end of the 1940’s, alcohol therapy professionals were making an effort to get a superior and improved arrangement for alcoholics. On the other hand those professionals were trying to get a better deal for themselves.

The Disease Model of addiction by Jellinek (1960) implies that pathology, which is primary to addiction, engages changes in the brain that can direct people to do things hostile to their will. This theory searches for the explanation of individual differences, the development of addiction and vulnerability and receptiveness to improve and retrieve lost ability by recovering from it. Furthermore, this model also controls the concept of compulsion, craving and self-control.

According to self- control concept, addicted individual will try to make an effort to stop engaging in addictive behaviour and will demonstrate all signs that he/she really wants stop but on the other hand will keep his involvement in the addiction. Addicts will try to stop using heroin and accordingly will promise themselves that this is last time. Loss of control patent will be visible over the long or short time. Even when episodes of losing control will repeat over a period of time, addict will make himself believe that he/she still has the power to refrain from addictive behaviour.  But the truth is that there is no way to gradually stop engaging in addictive behaviour by reducing the drug dose, and the only way is to stand firm and try to survive.

Furthermore, the Disease Model inspects the concept of craving which Jellinek (1960) characterises as an “urgent and overpowering desire”. This uncontrollable need drives and forces the individual to accomplish addictive behaviour. The driving forces of the thirst can exit and operate further than the emotion, overpower the addicted individual and strongly affect the emotion, control thought and overshadow all their actions. Disease Theory is confined to the fundamental observable facts of addiction. These powerful urges strip the addict of all aspiration and leave him/her concentrated on the hunt for the target of desire. In assumption of the Disease Model we can state that an addict’s reactions are compulsive and driven by obsession over drugs. As we observe in the Theory of Rational Choice, the individual had the ability to choose to engage in addictive behaviour whereas in disease theory there are no realistic choices but the pressure of the craving or desire to use the drug.

The last concept of the Disease Theory is self-cure which reflects the scrutiny that some addicts may discontinue to engage in addictive behaviour without evident complexity. Skog (2000) evaluates the Disease Model as deceptive because it implies that addicted individuals are able to be the spectator to their own addiction and the only way to stop this is by “physical restraint”. According to this model, addicts are able to make sudden decisions to stop the addictive behaviour without the developed desire to use the drug. Those brain defects, which were the primary cause of the urge, can all of a sudden regulate themselves or the addicted individual wasn’t addicted at the start.

This explanation can be perceived as unclear for many reasons. One of the reasons is that a heavy drug user cannot just get well and improve their function. It also does not address the fact that there can be distinctive differences between short term and long term users who engage in the activity much more regularly.

The centre of attention in this theory is directed towards the desire and compulsion whereas there are many other important aspects of addiction which are not covered by this theory. This theory does not adopt the subject of choice and individuality and is also does not address the differences between the processes of addiction which is individual for everyone.

The assumption of this model is that diverse issues build the addictive behaviour and make it more gratifying and self-discipline more sorrow.

Tackling addiction requires identification of the sources of imbalance at an individual or societal level and developing workable ways of restoring balance either by introducing countervailing motivations or reducing the strength, frequency or impact of maladaptive motivations.

Addiction is a diverse and complex field. Different aspects of addictive behaviour need to be understood in order to tackle addiction effectively.  In order to deal with addiction effectively, it is essential to identify the sources of imbalance at an individual or group level and develop practical ways to restore or correct the imbalance. This can be achieved in a number of ways such as by introducing countervailing motivations or reducing the strength, frequency or impact of maladaptive motivations.

As we have seen, different theories of addiction focus on different aspects of addictive behaviour. Each theory or model has advantages and disadvantages. Although no one theory accurately describes all aspects of addiction, a combined view of different theories can provide a good indication and explanation of most aspects of addictive behaviour.


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Evidence to suggest methamphetamine use has a powerfully negative affect on psychologcal health

First use of methamphetamine was reported in 1919 in Japan and just one year later in 1920 in Europe. In the 1930’s the use of methamphetamine increased significantly in Europe. In 1938, a German Pharmacological company located in Berlin started producing methamphetamine under the name of “Pervitin”. In World War II methamphetamine was distributed between German soldiers and the rest of general population. The German military referred to it a “Pilots chocolate”.

In 1940, methamphetamine changed its name to “Methedrine” or “desoxyephedrine” and it also changed its function. Its use was started to treat psychological illnesses such as neurosis, depression and hypotension. By the mid 1900’s the ill-effects of the drug also became evident. In 1961 the British Medical Association recommended that the drug should be used with caution. They further went on to state that prescription of the medication should be limited only to the conditions where no reasonable alternative exists.

Methamphetamine is a versatile substance in the sense that can be consumed orally, smoked or injected. In our modern world the widespread and extensive use of the drug has increased and is greater than before. There has been a growing concern with the problem of methamphetamine abuse in society. The drug become easily available on the drug market and popularity of the drug become major concern.

Over the years the side effects of the drug have become increasingly evident and methamphetamine use has been associated with a number of negative psychological conditions.  Methamphetamine users often demonstrate numerous behaviour changes. Addicted individuals are often violent, in public situation start acting out of the ordinary and can display extremely anxious behaviour is frequently confused and unable to sleep. Psychosis delusions and hallucination very common as an effect of this drug as well.

Psychotic features can be really strong and convincing for methamphetamine users that can create out of control anger and can lead to suicidal of the addict .

These negative behavioural and psychological changes can continue for years even if drug use is discontinued.

Methamphetamine abuse has led to many issues in society and even death in some cases. According to Zweben (2004), methamphetamine use is connected with psychopathology which consists of depression, psychosis, mood and anxiety disorder, violent behaviour and cognitive deficits.

One of the most common side effects of methamphetamine use is related to depression which can in-turn lead to suicide attempts. Depression among methamphetamine users can be better understood from a research conducted by Zwebden. Zweben (2004) in his study with one of the biggest samples of the methamphetamine users (N=1,016) examined the psychiatric symptoms and found that depression symptoms were frequently found among methamphetamine users. Specifically 68% of women and 50% of men reported feeling depressed at some point of their lives and 28%of the woman and 13% of men reported at least one suicide attempt. Another research by Clatts, Goldsamt and Yi (2005) shows the high rates of prior suicide attempts (34%) and clinically significant depressive symptoms in over half (58%) of all users.

Additional studies have shown further correlation between depression and methamphetamine addiction. Studies have shown that depression can be a major contributing factor for methamphetamine addiction and the risk of long term addiction is higher for those suffering from depression. In his research, Grant (1995) found evidence which suggests that the lifetime risk of dependence to methamphetamine was 6.19 times more likely for an individual with major depression than between those without major depression.  At the same time, the rate and risk of depression and attempted suicide is also seen to be higher in methamphetamine users than the general population. The higher level of depression is usually associated with the long time use and injection of the drug. The negative powerful effects of methamphetamine use have an impact on the psychological health of the user to the point that the addict wanted to attempt suicide. Semple (2005) found that methamphetamine users meet all conditions for minor to critical depression and the longer they use the bigger and higher the level of depression symptoms they have.

At the same time it is also important to note that the social and health problems of the methamphetamine users do not directly contribute to depression whereas the taboo and stigma associated with its use can affect users which can lead to an increase in depressive symptoms. All these factors are part and the cause of the development of depression in methamphetamine users.

General problems associated with addiction can also be found with MA users such as the problem of isolation.  It is common for methamphetamine users to start isolating themselves from their surroundings. This is mainly found in long time methamphetamine use. The isolation plays a positive role in the development of depression. The lack of connection with surroundings is one of the risk factors for the depression.(Costello 1982).

Many of these researches indicate that methamphetamine users are more prone to be depressed and more vulnerable to other psychological conditions as psychosis hallucination and delusions. Psychostimulant users have higher level of psychosis and hallucination than opiate users. The higher level of psychosis is associated with long time use and has higher risk of psychotic symptom, mania or other disorders.  This is sometimes referred to as “Speed psychosis” among users.

Hallucinations can appear as sound and vision and can be observed usually in the auditory or visual senses. Psychosis in the methamphetamine user can also go hand in hand with unstable emotional condition and aggressive behaviour. Psychosis can last up to hours to days. In severe cases the individual may require urgent medical attention or even hospitalisation.

Another symptom associated long term methamphetamine use is paranoia. The delusion and hallucination in methamphetamine users can sometimes manifest itself as a strong belief that people are in conspiracy against him. Addicted individuals can sometimes hear and see things which are not present in reality. Sometimes the psychosis or hallucination can activate aggressive behaviour which is a result of psychostimulant abuse.

Furthermore according to McKetin (2006), long time use of methamphetamine can trigger aggressive behaviour in the addict. Strongly intoxicated individuals can cause arguments in social situations which can in-turn set off violate behaviour.

Hall in 1996 found in his study that half of methamphetamine users show violent behaviour which increases from time they start using the drug. Those individuals with a problem of aggression can react with violent behaviour because of the drug use. Zweben(2004)  found that 43% of methamphetamine users have a problem with aggression. McKetin (2006) reported in his finding 12% of the addicts have committed crime in the previous year. Sommers (2006) found that a third of methamphetamine users have assaulted someone while being intoxicated.

In addition to the already-documented physical effects of the drug, preliminary evidence suggests that methamphetamine dependence may also cause long-term neuronal damage.

Many powerful negative effects of methamphetamine use on psychological health and functioning have been highlighted in this report. Research in this field is widespread and ongoing. From time to time, new findings have only further supported this supposition.

The society is in general more aware of the drawbacks and side effects of methamphetamine use. However at the same time, methamphetamine use has not declined and its popularity has continued to grow. Methamphetamine abuse continues to be a major concern for our society. We have come a long way since 1920 when the drug was first released. Today, its negative effects are accepted universally and it is recognised as a major drug problem. Major strides have been also been taken towards the management of methamphetamine abuse and dependence.


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Situation where a psychologist has been used to find a solution to a real world problem.

In order to answer all the question it is important to explain and predict by proposing the ex-istence or operation of entities that have not been observed.

Addiction can be defined as a degree of participation in a behaviour that can function both to deliver pleasure and to give relief from discomfort to the point where the costs appear to ex-ceed the benefits.

Idea of addiction is use in relation to substance or behaviour. According to psychologists people can be addicted from heroin, gambling, nicotine and work.

Word “addictions” has become really popular. In the foundation of addiction lack of control of one’s own thinking, behaviour and life brings a continuous search for drugs or situation which will trigger known emotion state.

Physical dependence, abuse of, and withdrawal from drugs and other miscellaneous sub-stances is outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV TR). Addict is a sick person and addiction is a disease (Kohn 1987).

From the time when the addiction of alcohol or nicotine was permanently assigned to the re-cord of social problem and does not surprise our society any more as drug addiction which is often linked to the death by HIV virus and injection by aggressive and desperate owner.

Stereotypes like this has led to misunderstanding and triggers negativeness of our society. It has also resulted in ostracism and has isolated family of addicted persons. Till time under-standing of addiction will be based on mythology and stereotypes which are upheld by fear and lack of authentic knowledge. Family of addictive person will have tendency to hide the problem because of farness of negative reaction from the society.

Accordingly children inform their parents about their addiction often at the last. A Wife will try to inform husband at the last and will not confide about the secrets to the rest of family who will know only the version about an “illness” or “disease”. According to “disease model of addiction” in which the behaviour it is a disease and the drug use is a symptoms of drag addiction. Such as disease not mean that the individuals are a positive subject in the addiction process.

Addiction supposed to perceive in category of process which inclusive series of change or altering behaviour, thinking, feeling which are become deeper over time. Long time usage of drug makes the body used to the drug and because of that addict increase the dose or the time of taking to get the expecting effect. It is important to observe that the progressive addiction eliminates delivery of experience which we surround in the first contact with drugs.
Because of short time of the experience an addict choose different type of drugs which will help elongarte the state of pleasure or eliminate the withdrawal.

Source of addictive behaviour is a pathological need for a substance. Language use by addict is changing and is dependent of environment and the person who they are talking to. If they talk to policeman they put them self in a position they can change they behaviour and be out of control thereby making their situation evident.

A first contact with drugs is started during the process of growing up. In the same time teen-age behaviour is unpredicted, they become drastic in they opinion and the way of react. Looking for answer on the base questions, won’t to be accepted in a group, fight for inde-pendence, telling they parent about they mistake, and try live on they own idea. In this period is coming crisis of identity. To answer the question how I am, where is my place, yang person looking for authority which will fit to his criticisms and idealism. Also sometime young person starts isolate, start making they own separate world. For many hours sitting alone in they own room, loosing the motivation to study and meeting friends.

According to the “Psychosexual Stages of Development” Sigmund Freud (1948). All five stages propose the structure of personality in addiction.

First Oral stage is in the first two years of life where the mouth is the prime erogenous zone and greatest source of gratification is feeding. Second Anal stage is in 2 to 3 year of life. Third Phallic stage from age 3 to 5 or 6. Four Latency stage is 6 to 12, and fifth stage Genital is after the first experience of pleasure from sexual relation.

Freud believed that there is important gratification in each stage, if person will not resave the right gratification can drinking or taking drags in adult life. This is one of the theories that will help to understand the psychodynamic perspective of addiction and can give explanation for the association with addiction. Treatment for narcotic addiction is similar to treatment of alcoholic addiction. In the process of addiction addicts feel physical withdrawal from de-pendency of the drug and need to go thorough detox. After successful detox is time for ther-apy. A lot of heroin addicts choose treatment with methadone because withdrawal from her-oin does not remove craving for the drug.

One of the types of heroin therapy is group therapy to present closely the process of group therapy it will be necessary to give example from a real world problem.

A Polish 19 year old female was diagnosed by Psychologist with addiction of heroin in a clin-ics call “Half way home” in Warsaw. Clink “K.A.R.A.N.” had program, of 9 mount group therapy for young people whit range age of 16 to 20, female and male. Each addict were treated individually and if some of the addicts needed more time than 9 months to complete the program then they were given. The four stages of group therapy were spent isolated from outside world, friends and family.

First step is called me stage. In this stage addicted person is working on motivation to make change in the therapy, realise the simple problem like egoism, manipulation, changing the thinking and face the problem of addiction. Also in this step addict present their own motiva-tion to change and leave drugs on the special group meeting whit psychologist.

Second step is the stage of me and my family. To achieve the next step addict needs to present every problem which he think he can fix or change to the group and psychologists. If self presentation will be accepted and will be according to the real progress therapy, addict will be allowed to move to the second stage. In the process of the stage the addicted person is allowed to leave the clinic for short time with supervision of parent or guardian. Also the pa-tient can attend to school to continue education.

Third step is me and me outside world. This stage addict is more independent, and is allow living the clinic wherever he need to. To achieve the third step patient needs to present in the group meeting all problems which he has changed or is working on at that moment.

Fourth and last step is called me and my aims and gain for the future. In this stage addict be comes named neophyte which means converted. Like in third step patient needs to present the problem and reflect on the progress, and change thorough therapy. Indicate more interested in problem of other people in the clinic. The last stage is time to get ready to leave the therapy, and life with new self.

Thorough the therapies each addict has some function which he is responsible for. The func-tion is given by psychologist and is dependent on the time – how long the person is in a clinic, and some individual resent. For every mistake example swearing or forget to switch lights in a room is given help like writing 200 times “I will never again forget to switch of the lights”.

Method use by Psychologists in this therapy is a different then 12 step program for alcoholic. Yong addict can fix the problem with family and will be able to come back to family home after they finish that therapy. Or start they own life independent. In a beginning the clinic can help whit accommodation and support but not for longer then one year long.

Some of the addicts can survive outside and never again come back to taking the drugs. Some of them will come back to the same problem with addiction and use the treatment again.

Every addict has the chance to come out from the problem but is up to them that therapy is successful. If they are honest throughout the therapy and they have support from family and friends they have big chance to never come back to addiction.

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