Conceptualizing Addiction

Conceptualizing Addiction

One of the most powerful things is having an addiction. An addiction is the quality or state of being addicted; compulsive need for and use of a habit forming substance (as heroin, nicotine, or alcohol) characterized by tolerance and by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal; broadly: persistent compulsive use of a substance known by the user to be harmful (“Addiction”, 2015). That is just one of many definitions of addiction. There are just as many explanatory theories of addiction as there are definitions. In this paper I will briefly describe two models of conceptualization addiction. I will compare and contrast the models, and give a summary about which theory I feel is the most useful for helping intervene on addiction.

Cognitive-behavioral theories

Cognitive- behavioral theories explains that the motivation for taking drugs is humans liking and wanting to experience variety. The need for variety is demonstrated in cross- cultural expressions such as singing, dancing, running, and joking (McNeece &DiNitto, 2012). The use of drugs are found in various activities some examples are self-exploration, escaping boredom or despair, and even religious services. Another cognitive explanation for drug use and abuse is the desire to feel pleasure. Assuming that people enjoy variety, it follows that they repeat actions that brings them pleasure (positive reinforcement) (McNeece & DiNitto, 2012). Over time the brain gets use to the presence of the drug or any other addictive substance. When a person stops taking the drug or addictive substance the brain reveals certain abnormalities. The person experiences unpleasant withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, agitation, tremors, increased blood pressure, and in severe cases seizures.

Learning theory

Learning theory assumes that alcohol or drug use results in a decrease in psychological states such as anxiety, stress, and tension, thus positively reinforcing the user (McNeece & DiNitto, 2012). After a while this learning response turns into a physical dependence, which then makes the person want to avoid withdrawal symptoms becoming the main motivation for drug use. Going cold turkey from a addictive substance will lead to the unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. The addict quickly learns that these symptoms may be avoided by resuming use if the drug (McNeece & DiNitto, 2012).

Compare & Contrast

Both the learning theory and the cognitive-behavioral theory have a bearing on behaviorism because they believe that the environment of the pupil greatly affects the performance of a pupil in the different circles of life. They are both different though because one theory is based on a sociological perspective and the other on a psychological perspective. These two perspective conceive humans in different ways. The learning theory is based on the sociological perspective which focuses on how society can influence the faith of an individual. It also explain how interaction between two people affects social change, social behavior, and social patterns. The cognitive-behavioral theory is based on the psychological perspective. This explains that the way an individual behaves is determined by how they respond to external stimuli.

To conclude I believe that the learning theory is the most useful to help intervene on addiction. The reason I chose this one is because I truly believe that addiction is a learned behavior. Your social life and the things that happen around you have a big influence on the decisions you make. If you witness someone handling their stress by consuming addictive substances on a constant bases you take that in and learn that, that is the way to handle it. I think if a person that is abusing a substance is conditioned to see that there are other alternatives to handling stress in life and that they have control over that, then the road to recovery will began.