Biological explanations of drug misuse

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  • Biological explanations for substance misuse
    • When someone takes a drug that alters the availability of one or more neurotransmitters, it affects mood or behaviour
    • Depressant drugs slow the brain's activity, whereas stimulants speed it up
    • Repeated use of any drug has the potential to change chemical balances within the brain
      • this is because the level of neurotransmitters in regulated by feedback systems to prevent over or under production
        • when a person takes a psychoactive drug which artificially changes these levels, the brain adjusts the level of natural production
          • the person then needs to carry on taking the drug so they can function normally, by maintaining neuro-transmitter substances within the normal range
    • Evaluation:
      • Withdrawal symptoms support the biological explanation as symptoms are of a severe deficit of the relevant neuro-transmitter
      • Strong positive correlation between diagnosis of psychosis and heavy use of cocaine and/or amphetamines, suggesting drugs are inducing psychosis
      • Self-report evidence from drug users shows that development of psychological need correlates positively with physiological measurements of dependency
      • Large individual differences that decide whether or not someone becomes an addict
      • Cultural norms and peer-group influences play a major role in the likelihood of misuse occurring
      • If biological factors were what determine the amount required for a fix, overdosing due to context dependency wouldn't occur

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