Substance Abuse: Causes, Effects, and Treatment

Pages: 6 (1864 words) Published: August 14, 2010
For this assignment I propose to look at the causes, effects and treatment of Addictive Behaviours primarily focusing on substance abuse i.e. drugs. The main body of my research shall derive from a UK study on addictive behaviours defining attentional bias for substance-related stimuli, the effects of attentional bias manipulation on craving and substance use and the treatments available. I shall also support my investigations through theoretical synthesis and conclude with the importance of understanding my role in a social care setting and my influence in my work when advocating with troubled clients.

Addictive behaviours concern current behavioural patterns that are compulsive and out of control behaviour in nature and the level of difficulty encountered in changing them (Addiction and Change, 2006).

Etiology reflects a belief that the best way to understand and change addictions is to understand why and how they began. It is critical to understand etiology because it often reveals the source of the problem. “A virus or a contaminated environment and a mode of transmission – which when attacked or resolved leads to the eradication of the problem”. (Donovan & Marlatt, 1998; Glantz & Pickens, 1992 cited in Addiction and Change, 2006:6)

Having reviewed an article from Science Direct focusing on the causes, effects and treatment of substance abuse in the United Kingdom I shall synthesise my research focusing predominately on drug abuse and also touch on how other countries relate to and see if there are similarities on this topic. Addictive Behaviours are characterised by attentional biases for substance related stimuli. Integrating theoretical models explain the development, causes and consequences of addiction related attentional biases. Classical conditioning substance-related stimuli elicit the expectancy of substance availability and this expectancy causes both attentional bias for substance-related stimuli and subjective craving.

Attentional bias and craving have a mutual excitatory relationship. There is an increase in one leading to an increase in the other, likely resulting in substance self-administration. Cognitive avoidance strategies, impulsivity and impaired inhibitory control appear to influence the strength of attentional biases and subjective craving. (Field and Cox, 2008).

Robinson and Berridge’s (1993) central belief is that repeated administration of a substance of abuse produces a dopaminergic response in the brain that becomes larger with the administrating of each new substance. This causes the substance to be perceived prominently in acquiring strong motivational properties and therefore by obtaining and self-administering the substance as an important goal, developing strong subjective cravings for the substance. Classical conditioning as a substance-related treatment acquires incentive-motivational properties and as a consequence to this seeks attention that becomes wanted and attractive guiding behaviour to the incentive.

Franken’s model (2003) suggests that there is a mutual relationship with subjective craving and attentional bias. When substance-related cues become the main focus of attention, the subjective cravings increase until the substance is obtained and administered. Kavanagh et al, 2005 (the “elaborate intrusion” theory of desire), is a general model of subjective motivational states, i.e. substances craving and hunger. This model makes similar predictions suggesting that subjective substance craving can initially be experienced as an ‘intrusion’ that is perhaps caused by internal states or external cues such as being deprived of a substance or the latter seeing someone taking or self administering a substance. The elaboration increases the strength of the substance craving.

Research conducted in the Netherlands review an integrated approach based on craving and addiction based on insights from psychology and neuropsychopharmacology. An integrated...

Bibliography: DiClemente, C.C. (2006), Addiction and Change; How Addictions Develop and Addicted People Recover, Guilford Press, London
Field M and Cox W.M (2008), Attentional bias in addictive behaviours: A review of its development, causes and consequences, Drug and Alcohol Dependence 97 (2008) 1-20
Kavanagh D.J and Connolly J.M (2009), Interventions for co-occurring addictive and other mental disorders (AMDs) Addictive Behaviours 34 (2009) 838-845
Franken, H.A (2003), Drug craving and addiction: integrating psychological and neuropsychopharmacological approaches, Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry 27 (2003) 563-579
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