Biological Explanations for Addiction

For revision, I made tables for the different explanations of addiction. It's important that you can answer questions about the initiation, maintenance and relapse of all three explanations for smoking and gambling, including AO2 detail.

In my actual exam, I did get a question about the biological explanations of addiction so I will have used some of these points.

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Stage Explanation Evaluation
The role of genetics:
Pathological gambling runs in families. Explains why some become addicted and others don't ­ genetic
Shah et al. ­ evidence for genetic transmission in men. predisposition. More vulnerable, and resistant to treatment.
Black et al. ­ link between first degree relatives and x Doesn't explain why some forms are more addictive than others.
Initiation pathological gambling. x Breen and Zimmerman ­ video gaming addiction (one year to develop);
However, could be due to social-modelling influences. betting on horses (three and a half years).
x Reductionist ­ ignores other factors (access to gambling, peer pressure).
Likely due to diathesis-stress model.
Pituitary-adrenal response:
Paris et al. ­ two videos ­ one preferred method, other xReductionist ­ aims to reduce complex behaviour to a simple
neutral. genetic/neurotransmitter difference (cortisol levels).
Recreational gamblers ­ raised cortisol after both. Easier to study isolated factors and may help develop treatment.
Pathological ­ no increase after either. However, misses contribution of learning/cognitive factors.
Shows underactive pituitary-adrenal response ­ gamble
excessively to chase buzz that recreational gamblers
Zuckerman ­ differences in peoples' need for Bonnaire supports.
stimulation. `Café gamblers' ­passive games to avoid unpleasant emotions
Sensation seeks ­ want more varied/new experiences. (boredom).
High sensation seekers low perception of risk, more `Racetrack gamblers' ­ active games for the arousal produced.
likely to gamble. At race track ­ high sensation seekers, showing it does cause addiction.

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Boredom avoidance:
Pathological gamblers ­ have need for intense
stimulation and excitement.
Blaszcynski et al.- poor boredom tolerance repetitive
Relapse gambling.
Pathological gamblers ­ high boredom scores compared
to control group.
No difference between types of gambling.
Stage Explanation Evaluation
The role of genetics:
Family/twin studies ­ heritability of tobacco 39-80%. x Reductionist ­ aim to reduce complex behaviour to simple
Vink et al. ­ individual differences in smoking initiation due to genetic/neurotransmitter difference.
Initiation 44% genetics and 56% environment.…read more

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Pre-natal exposure to nicotine:
Pregnant and smoking over 20 a day child more likely to x Free will/determinism debate.
become addicted. x You have free will over the choice to smoke, but your genetic
Maternal age, gender, socioeconomic status did not affect. make-up could determine the addiction's development.
Buka et al. ­ didn't increase likelihood of them trying smoking x Do not have free will over developing addiction.
but ensured addiction if they did initiate.
The role of genetics
Xian et al.…read more


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