Biological explanation of substance misuse

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  • the Neurotransmitters action and biochemistry in the brain changes
  • natural neurotransmitters is not enough to function normally so become Reliant on drug to sustain normality in the brain
  • the body builds a Tolerance to the amount of drug being taken so more dosage is needed to have the same affect
  • the person takes the drug for the Pleasurable experience
  • Physical dependence occurs whereby the body cannot function without the drug
  • to prevent unpleasent Withdrawel symptoms they will continue taking the drug


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Heroin example for substance misuse

Heroin makes the body quickly become reliant on it to produce dopamine levels for the person to function normally in - physical dependence.

Without the drug withdrawel symptons occur after 12 hours of taking the drug e.g. nausea, agitation and dizziness

Neurones overtime become less sensitive to the drug effects so more dosage is required to have the same affects

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Physical withdrawel symptoms proves thatthe drug affects the brain functioning abilities and that it becomes reliant on it to continue functioning normally.

It has enabled scientists to focus on one factor within substance misuse to develop drugs that can prevent substance misuse such as, methadone for heroin.

It has real life applications to reduce substance misuse through awareness and drug therapy

Animal studies have found alters in the brain biochemistry when taking drugs supporting the theory

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It is reductionist as only focuses on the nature side of substance misuse rather then the learning facors such as, peer influence - ignores all other factors.

The explanation is unable to pinpoint why the users takes the drug in the first place whereas, the learning approach shows that role models and peers can influence drug usage.

It cannot explain psychological dependence on the drug when using substances such as, craving 

Cultural differences cannot be explained by the biological approach whereas, the learning approach can with the types of drugs taken due to reinforcement both positively and negatively (avoiding withdrawel symptoms)

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Physical dependence

It means that the body can no longer function without the drug as the natural production of neurotransmitters is not enough.

If they avoid the substance, physical withdrawel symptoms will occur causing the person to continue taking the substance leading to substance misuse

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