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Psychology of Addictive Behaviour
Everyday Stress People report that they drink, smoke, consume drugs and gamble
in order to be able to cope with `daily hassles' such as money concerns, relationship
problems and workplace stress.
Traumatic Stress People exposed to severe stress such as parental loss and child
abuse, are more vulnerable to addiction. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is also
linked to addiction. Driessen (2008) found that 30% of drug addicts and 15% of
alcoholics also suffered from PTSD.
1. Does Addiction Decrease Stress? Many smokers smoke to reduce stress, yet
smoking may actually increase stress levels. Stress may be a risk factor for smoking
addiction, but smoking doesn't have the desired effect in reducing stress. Although,
Hajek et al (2010) found that once a smoker has taken up smoking, it may become
stressful needing a cigarette, so the cigarette becomes stress reducing when they
2. Individual Differences Stress may create vulnerability in some but not all people.
Cloniger (1987) suggested that there are two types of alcoholics; (1) Individuals who
primarily drink to reduce tension (more likely females and prone to anxiety or
depression) and (2) individuals who drink to reduce boredom and have a tendency
towards risk taking. Therefore, stress may explain the vulnerability for type 1 addicts,
but not all people.
Peer Pressure Cited as the reason for why adolescents start smoking and drug
taking. Increased levels of smoking have been linked to peer approval and
Social Learning Theory (SLT) The way in which people learn through the
observation of others. From this, the individual results in imitation of their
Social Identity Theory (SIT) This assumes that group members adopt behaviours
that are most important to the social identity of the group. If status of the group as
`smoker' or `non-smoker' is central to the social identification of the group,
individuals will have similar smoking habits.
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1. Drug Progression Wagner and Anthony (2007) found that cannabis smokers are
more likely to progress to cocaine usage due to being in peer groups where there are
opportunities for new drug experiences.
2. Social Learning Theory Duncan et al (1995) found research that claimed that the
exposure to peer models increases the likelihood that teenagers will begin smoking.…read more
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Novelty Seeking Trying to engage in new experiences
o Harm Avoidance Including worrying and being pessimistic
o Reward Dependence The extent to which an individual learn quickly from
rewarding experiences and repeats behaviours that have been rewarded.
1. Evidence for Personality as a Cause Belin et al (2008) placed rats in a device where
they could self-administer doses of cocaine. One group of rats were sensation
seekers and immediately started taking large doses.…read more