Vulnerability factors for addiction

Some notes on things which make people more vulnerable to addiction.

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Self esteem!

There are 4 main studies which look at how self esteem may effect the chances of someone becoming an addict.

1- Taylor et al- studied 900 boys and followed them for nine years. Found that those who scored low on a self esteem questionairre age 11 were more likely to have become drug addicts.

2- Niemz found that pathological internet users have low self esteem.

3+4- Newcombe and Mcurran both said that although it is likely that self esteem is a factor, there are others which influence addiction much more highly such as social class, background, friends, religion etc..

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Attribution style

Davies interviewed 20 drug and alcohol users to compile a list of 5 stages an addict goes through in terms of how they see thier own behaviour.

1- The individual emphasises the enjoyment and purpose of thier behaviour.

2- As problems begin, attributions are more contridictory. 

3-  By stage three, they see themselves as an addict and generally see the behaviour as negative.

4- The term addict is rejected, attributions are more mixed.

5- attributions stabilise, if the person generally has a negative view of the stages then they may have given up.

To test these stages, davies gave transcripts of his interviews to others to assess in terms of the stages, he found that there was 71% agreement

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Is there an addictive personality?

Eyesenck suggested that addictions form because they fulfil certain purposes related to personality type. He proposed 3 main types;

Psychoticism- Agression, coldness and impulsivity.

Neuroticism- Moodiness, irritability and anxiety

Extraversion- sociability, liveliness and optimism.

There isn't much evidence for this theory, but Francis ( 1996) did find that psychoticisim and neuroticism could be strongly linked to alcohol, heroin and nicotine use.

Slutsky also found that people with ADHD were more likely to develop alcohol use disorders.

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Social context

This is all based around behaviourism and how we learn to form addictions by observation and imitation of the things around us. In the UK, smoking, drinking and gambling are all legal and are all considered fun.

Sutherland and Wilner found that on average, 1/3 of british 13/14 year olds had been intoxicated on more than one occaision.

Because alcohol and cigarettes are so widely available they are not seen as dangerous or addictive as such.

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Children often model thier behaviour on those around them, in particular thier parents.

Fisher found that young gamblers are more likely to have a mother of father with a gambling problem. And that the parents of these children are seemingly unconcerned with thier childs behaviour.

Hall also found that people from lower socio economic backgrounds are more likely to develop substance abuse.

There is also evidence that suggests older brothers drug use has shown to effect a younger brothers later behaviour.

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The role of media in addictive behaviour

Advertising can be used in two ways; to promote the addictive behaviour or to warn about its dangers. 

Sulkunen looked at 140 scenes from 47 films that portrayed drugs and found that in general they portrayed drug use in a positive light.

Similarly Gunasekera looked at 87 of the most popular films of the last 20 years and found that tobacco featured in 68%, cannabis 8%, and drunken behaviour 32%

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