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Addiction is a complex disease, and according to Hanson, Venturelli and Fleckenstein (2008), it can be referred to as the state of episodic intoxication detrimental to the person and society, which is marked by a great desire to go on taking the drug and get it by whatever means. Going by this definition, addiction is characterized as compulsive, at times uncontrollable, drug craving, seeking and use that persist even in the face of extremely negative consequences. This restless pursuit of a drug of choice occurs despite the fact that the drug is usually harmful and injurious to bodily and mental functions (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2010). Drug dependence is a mental disease because drugs alter the structure and normal functioning of the brain. These mental changes can last for a long time, and can result to harmful behaviors among drug abusers. This essay examines one psychological model and one biological model of addiction.
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People start taking drugs for a wide range of reasons. Feeling good is one of the reasons; this is because drugs produce strong feelings of pleasure. This pleasurable sensation may be ensured by other good feelings depending on the drug used. Another reason why people use drugs is to feel better (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2010). People may use drugs to lower the feelings of distress caused by such conditions as social anxiety, or stress and depression. Others take them to perform certain tasks such as athletics better, or simply for curiosity. These reasons for taking drugs may make drugs appear as so good that one wonders where the problems lies. However, continued use of the drug becomes drug abuse. The user no longer seeks the pleasure initially sought, but now takes it to feel normal. This is when drug addiction craves in.
The term addiction today refers to the chronic adherence to drugs. This drug dependence can either be physical or psychological. Physical dependence is the body’s need to constantly have the drug or drugs, while psychological dependence is the mental inability to stop using the drug or drugs (Rassool, 2010). Addiction is different from other terms such as intoxication and drug abuse. Although substance abuse is regarded as maladaptive, leading to recurrent adverse consequences or impairment, it is clearly distinct from addiction, whose essential characteristic is continued use despite significant substance-related problems known to the user (West & Hardy, 2006). Addiction exhibits a number of features. One of them is tolerance. The drug user experiences the need for increased amounts or diminished effect of the same amount. The other feature is withdrawal. The drug user experiences a withdrawal syndrome for the specific substance (Rassool, 2010). This can be avoided by taking closely related substances. The third defining feature of addiction is compulsion. The user increasingly spends more time in substance-related activities such as obtaining, using, and recovering from its effects (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2010).
Although these are the main features of addiction, various models have been developed to explain the nature of addiction. These models stem from the fact that there is no factor to determine whether a person will become an addicted or not. The psychological model of addiction entails three main models (West & Hardy, 2006). These include psychodynamic, personality trait, and behavior learning. The model that will be discussed here is the personality trait model. This model holds that certain individuals are more vulnerable to addiction because the use of drugs fulfil a particular purpose in the personal profile of the person. As such, addition to such individuals can be regarded as beneficial although negative effects may arise after some time. Within the framework of psychological models, personality theory model stresses the importance of personal traits and characteristics in the formation and maintenance of dependence (Abadinsky, 2010). Traits such as hyperactivity, sensation seeking, antisocial behavior and impulsivity are associated with substance misuse.
The habit of using psychoactive substances is developed because the drug plays a certain role that is linked to the individual’s personality. For instance, studies with adolescents showed that those who are disruptive and have less conformist attitudes were more likely to drink and smoke, as well as use illegal psychoactive substances (Sloboda &Buokski, 2003). Although researchers have established between personality disorder and drug abuse, some researchers refute any epidemiological association between drug dependence and personality (Rassool, 2010). Those who refute this theory argue that no deductions can be made about causality since most studies have compared drug-dependent with non-independent persons. In addition, personality traits have, instead, been shown to change the likelihood of a person becoming dependent on drugs. Therefore, this model postulates that dependency on drugs is enhanced by the fact that the user feels better after taking them. In essence, they enhance the personal traits of the user; hence, the user is forced to continue using them in order to feel ‘better’ (West & Hardy, 2006). Failure to use the drugs may make the user to feel low and withdrawn; hence, is forced to go back to the dosage to enhance his or her personal traits.
The biological model entails different models such as biogenetic vulnerability and disease models. The model to be discussed here is biogenetic vulnerability. The biogenetic vulnerability model postulates that drug dependence is caused by genetic or induced biological abnormality of a physiological or structural nature (Robbins, Everitt, Nutt, 2010). This has been by family studies of problem drinkers, which suggest that such disorders cluster in families, especially among siblings. According to studies conducted to prove the model right, problem drinkers were found to have a 50 percent chance of one member of their family becoming dependent on alcohol, with a 90 percent chance of two or more family members having a similar dependence (Sloboda &Buokski, 2003). In a study conducted among pairs of twins, it was found out that the likelihood of developing dependence to opiates or stimulants was influenced more by genetic factors than by shared environmental factors.
Although there seems to be enough evidence to relate drug dependence to biogenetic vulnerability, some researchers have refuted the connection. In a study conducted among adopted siblings, it was found that children who had adopted parents were dependent on alcohol were more likely to develop a problem with alcohol, even though their biological parents were not dependent on alcohol (Abadinsky, 2010). These studies may suggest that drug dependence in such cases may have been influenced by environmental factors because such children grew in an environment where their adopted parents were drinkers (West & Hardy, 2006). This finding gives rise to a debate on the degree to which genetic factors play a role in addictive behavior. The extent to which drug dependence and biogenetic vulnerability relate remains unclear and calls for further investigation by researchers in the field in order to come to a consensus on the issue.
In conclusion, various models have been used to explain why people get addicted to drugs. However, no single model fully explains the phenomenon of drug addiction. While some researchers find some models plausible, others refute them with evidence to show to base their argument As such, it can be argued that drug addiction is a disease that is complex, and which is not attributed to one factor, but to multiple factors. The interplay of these factors makes it impossible to pin down a sole factor and attribute it to drug dependence, while neglecting the others.
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