Vulnerability to Addiction

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Vulnerability factors - Self esteem

It seems that people with low self-esteem can be more vulnerable to addictive behaviour than others. Especially adolescent gamblers. Low SE and higher rates of depression including heightened suicide attempts have been demonstrated (Deverensky et al 2003)

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  • Cognitive biases can play a part in addictive behaviour. 
  • Young male problem gamblers sometimes have unrealistic ideas about their chances of winning and their ability to influence outcomes (Moore and Ohtsuka 1999). 
  • However, these cognitive distortions are evident in many people who gamble and so do not explain why some gamble to excess. 
  • People with addictive behaviour often have an external locus of control and a poor sense of self-efficacy.
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  • Some believe that there is a so-called addictive personality. 
  • Hans Eysneck proposed a psychological resource model, i.e the individual develops an addictive habbit because it fulfills a certain purpose related to the personality type of the individual. Eysneck believes there are three major personality dimensions which are passed genetically: 
  • P (psychoticism) characteristics such as coldness, aggression, impulsivity. 
  • N (neuroticism): moodiness, irritability and anxiety. 
  • E (extraversion: sociability, liveliness and optimism.
  •  Research has suggested that there is a link between dependence on alcohol, heroin and nicotine with higher than normal cores in N and P (Francis, 1996). 
  • However, this research is correlational so it is difficult to make statements about a causal relationship. It may be that people who have a drug problem etc become more moody, anxious, aggressive etc.
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  • Gender differences seem to operate differently depending on the substance.
  •  In tobacco use there appears to be an increase in females smoking in the UK and US whereas male smoking has stayed stable or even shown a slight decline. One suggested reason is that smoking is perceived to control weight. On average smokers weigh 7lbs less than non smokers and people who quit often show weight gain of about 6lbs.
  •  Ogden and Fox 1994 found that female dieters used cigarette smoking as a weight maintenance strategy.
  •  In gambling, boys are more regular gamblers than girls. Jacobs 2000 summerised differences as: young males spend more money on gambling, start gambling earlier, enjoy more skill-based games and gamble on a greater number and variety of games.
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