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Risk factors in the development of addiction
Everyday stress NIDA, 1999: people report that they drink, smoke, use drugs, gamble etc. as a form of relieving
stress and thereby coping with daily hassles. Such stressors may contribute to the continuation of an addiction, and
increase relapse rates, as daily hassles change from day to day and are never `gone' as such.
Hajek et al, 2010: smoking has actually been found to increase stress, so stress may be a risk factor for
smoking but doesn't actually relieve stress. Paradoxically, once a smoker has become addicted, they may
become more stressed as the desire to have another cigarette is stressful, and therefore when they have
one, stress is reduced
Traumatic Stress People exposed to severe stress are more vulnerable to addictions, in particular children who
have experienced loss or abuse.
Driessen et al, 2008: 30% of drug addicts and 15% of alcoholics also suffered from PTSD
Clongier, 1987: stress may create vulnerability in some but not all people. Some individuals may drink to
reduce tension whereas others may drink to relieve boredom.
Eiser et al, 1991: smokers befriend smokers, non-smokers befriend non-smokers
McAlister et al, 1984: increased levels of smoking are linked to peers' encouragement and approval
Social Learning Theory Bandura, 1990: Behaviours are learned through observation of others and subsequent
modelling of this behaviour, therefore young people are most likely to imitate the behaviour of those with whom
they have the most social contact, which can be used to explain why some people smoke.
However, this would also mean that smokers who socialise with non-smokers may feel the need to stop, and
so SLT can be seen as contradictory in a case such as this, where all individuals are friends around the same
Duncan et al, 1995: exposure to peer models increases the likelihood that teenagers will begin smoking
Eiser et al, 1989: perceived rewards (such as popularity and social status) are a large reason as to why
teenagers take up, and continue, smoking
Social Identity Theory Abrams and Hogg, 1990: assumes group members adopt norms and behaviours that are
central to the social identity of the group; in groups where `smoker' or `non-smoker' is central to the social identity of
the group, individuals are likely to be similar to one another in their smoking habits.
More likely than SLT as it also explains why many peer groups don't have addictions
Brown et al, 1997: in adolescence the social crowd (peers) might have a greater impact on smoking,
whereas later on in life, the best friend or romantic partner plays a greater role
Research from 2012: reviewed more than 2,300 patients aged from 17 to 86 years, found that some
personality traits associated with age are risk factors in different stages of life. Younger patients (from 17 to
35 years) are more likely to be impulsive and seek new sensations that act as precipitating factors of
Research is only correlational; whilst certain personality traits may be common amongst addicts, this does not
mean they predict addictive behaviour
Teeson et al, 2002: it is difficult to determine the aetiology; it is unclear whether personality traits affect
addiction risk or if addiction affects personality traits
Belin et al, 2008: evidence in rats: placed them in a device that allows them to self-administer doses of
cocaine; whilst pleasure-seekers started taking large doses, impulsive rats started on smaller doses but were
the ones to become addicted; animal research cannot be applied to a wider population; methods were
Weintraub et al, 2010: found evidence in humans. Addiction is linked to dopamine, and the study suggests
that high levels of dopamine lead to impulsivity, which may cause addiction there is an indirect effect from
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Neuroticism and psychoticism Eysneck, 1967: proposed a biological theory of personality based on three
dimensions: extraversion-introversion, neuroticism and psychoticism.
Francis, 1996: found a link between addiction and high scores on both neuroticism and psychoticism
Tri-dimensional theory of addictive behaviour Clongier, 1987: proposed three personality traits that
predispose individuals towards substance dependence: novelty seeking, harm avoidance and reward dependence.…read more