Theories of Addiction Explanations for Continuing Drug Use and Relapse sample essay

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Theories of Addiction Explanations for Continuing Drug Use and Relapse sample essay

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Theories of addiction, many have been proposed and a variety of preclinical models have been constructed. several theories were utilized in this study to better understand the basis of addiction. The first theory, negative reinforcement, suggests that the continued use of the psychoactive substance is to avoid withdrawal dysphoria. The next theory subject to research during this study was positive reinforcement. The positive reinforcement theory of addiction suggests the subject continues use of the psychoactive substance simply because they enjoy it. These theories, positive reinforcement the more familiar of the preclinical models of addiction, stem from the associative learning theory. Either of these preclinical models are a perfect example of operant conditioning. Both subjects have associated their use of the psychoactive substance with consequences, reinforcing the behavior. Operant conditioning is the easiest form of associative learning and the hardest to correct once behavior is learned in this manner. There have been several studies done to understand operant conditioning.

The most prominent was the operant chamber, a Skinner box. It was built in the mid sixties by B. F. Skinner and brought modern behaviorism to the forefront of psychology. Though a very controversial study much was learned in behavior control and was called the law of effect, stating that rewarding behavior is likely to recur. Another crucial model in understanding addiction is stimulus response learning. This model suggests, unlike that of associative learning where the response follows the stimulus, the stimulus itself creates a habitual response. This this occurs through classical conditioning and is a conditioned response. This conditioned response is developed through conditioned reinforcement. When the subject comes in to contact with paraphernalia, like the light in the skinner box, they know they are going to receive their primary reinforcer. This can easier be illustrated with Pavlov’s studies on classical conditioning. Pavlov began to notice that dogs salivating whenever he would present the with a bowl of food. This is an example of an unconditioned stimulus eliciting an unconditioned response.

When you introduce a neutral stimulus with an unconditioned stimulus. In this case the paraphernalia, you receive the unconditioned response. Eventually, if this is repeated over time the once neutral stimulus elicits the same response as the unconditioned stimulus. The once unconditioned response is now a conditioned response and can be controlled with exposure to the conditioned stimulus. When the subject is exposed to the paraphernalia the body begins adjusting for the use of the psychoactive substance and causes the cravings associated with addiction. The next model researched in the study was incentive salience. This is a motivational attribute given by the brain to reward predicting stimuli, causing the craving for the psychoactive substance. For example, if the subjects addictive behavior is extinguished and is then exposed to an illustration once associated with the stimulus, the craving can return. Cravings can also return through spontaneous recovery.

This is when the subjects addictive behavior is extinguish and, without stimuli exposure, the subjects craving for the substance returns briefly. This is believed to be cause of relapse in some subjects battling this disorder. The final model to be discussed is the inhibitory control dysfunction model. Inhibitory control consists of neural impulses that act to dampen or stop a specific activity. The area of the brain that this function occurs is inthe pre-frontal cortex. This area of the brain is in control of personality, decision making, and other functions. If damage or a dysfunction is present in this area of the brain it could alter the subjects personality and decision making abilities. Other symptoms of this is impulsiveness and altered judgment. As a result if the subject has a dysfunction in this area they are more likely to begin, continue, and possibly relapse use of a psychoactive substance. The study was comprised of seventy-three non-treatment seeking Methamphetamine users both men and women.

They were given a survey with questions of self perceived reasons why a methamphetamine user would continue use or relapse. They found that fifty-six percent of the participants use psychoactive substances due to positive reinforcement, forty-four percent would relapse for the same. This theory was rated the highest next was inhibitory control dysfunction at twenty- seven percent, stimulus response learning at twenty-five percent, negative reinforcement at twenty- three percent, and incentive salience at nineteen percent.

Most of the participants that rated positive reinforcement high also had correlations in there answers. They rated incentive salience, stimulus response learning and inhibitory control dysfunction. This suggests that other concepts of theories of addiction are needed for a better understanding of addiction. This study also shows that not all methamphetamine users are alike, treatment should be further focused in subtypes. If treatment were focused and developed in subtypes it may be more effective. By issuing the survey to non-treatment seeking methamphetamine users they were able to identify possible patient subtypes. Thus bringing the treatment to the subject instead of the disorder.


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